What do you do when you’re known as the Disciple Making Pastor, you’ve written a well known book about it – yet you know it’s not working. Bill Hull found himself at 50 years old, profoundly discouraged – in spite of his apparent success.
I had forgotten that my life as a leader should be a reflection of my relationship to Christ. Leadership is not about competency and productivity, as we have been led to believe. Our culture values action over contemplation, individualism over community, speed over endurance, fame over humility, and success over the satisfied soul.
I came to see that I was not leading the way Jesus led. His life was characterized by humility, brokenness, submission, and sacrifice. My life was characterized by pride, competence, control, and convenience. I began to understand the value of brokenness as God’s way of leading us into a life of humility. And I became fed up with my addiction to the false values of our culture. To use Pascal’s words, I was tired of "licking the earth." I was tired of it and so was the congregation.
Later in the article Hull says,
When I changed from a strategist to a shepherd, when my teaching was filled with love rather than data, the congregation began to melt. They sensed that something prophetic was happening, and it changed our church.
It’s almost as if much of the Western Church has developed a factory mentality about church growth and leadership. Get them to “make a decision”, stamp a label on them and if they come back for at least 50% of the services and give us a portion of their money – we’ve been successful. Bums in chairs = success.
Does it matter that fewer than 10% of those who “make a decision” actually develop into committed believers? Does it matter that most church growth in NA is the circulation of believers rather than conversion growth? In fact, many new church attendees have been attracted by the success model of a particular church and want to be associated with it. It’s not about becoming disciples.
Jesus was about creating disciples. By any stretch of the present North American church growth phenomenon, he was a failure. Eleven disciples at the end of his ministry. Between 120 and 500 followers. We wouldn’t even consider reading his books on church leadership and growth, would we?
The fact of the matter is, according to the books he did cause to be written, Jesus doesn’t care about numbers. He cares about people. It isn’t data he’s after, it’s relationships. He’s going to ask us about David and Jonathan and Elizabeth and Ndora and Juan and Enriquez and Sibusiso and Lloyd and Lorene and Carleigh. The people he brought into our lives. He’s not going to be impressed by the size of the churches we built. He’s only going to be concerned with the size of our hearts – and the people we poured our love into.
Thanks G.H. for pointing me at the Leadership Magazine Newsletter that prompted this post.