In a church culture that values bigger as better, here is a quote from the book Total Church that not only gives instruction on how to grow a congregation, but also how to be a gospel failure.
It is actually not that difficult to create a large congregation. Paul tells us…you give people what will “suit their own desires” and say ” what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). Entertain the congregation each Sunday…do not focus on the depth of their sin…whatever you do, do not challenge the idolatrous desires of their hearts.
Instead offer them sermons on how to realize those desires and find success in life. Or better still, tell amusing stories that excite them with a vague sense of optimism. That is one way to grow a congregation.
This is sound wisdom and it is nothing new but it is a sad commentary on the state of the pulpit and the church in America today. But just as in Paul and Timothy’s day the remedy for such a Christ-less church growth strategy also remains the same.
There is a more godly way that is faithful to the gospel…Paul tells Timothy to “Preach the Word…in season and out of season.” He is to stick with “sound doctrine.” He is to correct, rebuke, and encourage…and this in view of the coming of Christ Jesus “who will judge the living and the dead.”
We must be gospel centered, even though the world around us (and the flesh as well) wants us to be centered on everything but the gospel.
Preaching the Word of God and warning people to flee from the wrath of God which is poured out against sin may not always equate to numerical increase. Biblical faithfulness to Christ and the Word are not measured in that way; in fact being gospel-centered and Biblically faithful are the most reliable and sufficient measures of success, not numbers.
God help me to be a fool for Christ so that I won’t become a gospel failure.