Over the past few weeks our church has been on a journey as we have been sharing on Henry Blackaby's book Experiencing God. This is actually the third time I have had the joy of studying this most challenging work. Experiencing God for those who have never done it is not something to enter into lightly. It WILL challenge every aspect of your faith in ways that you could never imagine. As I have spent time not only in the study with our leaders but also in sharing the concepts on Sunday's I have become more and more challenged in my own faith.
I have been to many churches over the years and I have certainly served under many different types of leadership styles. I have been to Pentecostal churches, contemporary Salvation Army Churches and even Traditional Army and liturgical churches. I hear all the time that music style is the key or that the latest leadership books are the key in growing healthy churches. I agree that this stuff is great and in many cases the ideas can certainly help in developing good strong healthy churches. The frustrating thing for me is however, I don't know if I want a HUGE church. I would rather a small church of on-fire Christians in a deep and growing relationship with Jesus rather than a church of hundreds with people who don't care less. The more I spend time with Jesus and the more I read the word of God, the more I realize that we have the best leadership guide on the planet and yet for some reason we continue to buy the books of 'man' in order to learn how to be a good leader or develop a deeper relationship with God.
The problem with our churches today has nothing to do with the music we play, it has nothing to do with how quick we can groom new leaders and it has nothing to do with how many miracles are performed on a Sunday. The problem quite simply lies at the heart of the people. Until our people understand the importance of a deep personal relationship with a loving and graceful God we will never experience growth in our churches. I know I may cop some flack for saying some of these things but this is how I see it and what I feel God is saying to His church. Leadership books, training and programs DO NOT bring people to church or to faith. At the end of the day it all comes back to a person's priority in life and the desire to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus.
This is such a frustration for me and it certainly brings pain to my heart when I see Christians (and I use this term loosely) who choose other things over God. It breaks my heart when I see Christians choosing not to experience the fullness of Christ in their lives because they would rather involve themselves in the things of the flesh.
I don't know about you but the best leader on the planet is Jesus himself. While studying over the past few weeks I have been challenged by a question that was asked. What is more important: Leadership? or Shepherdship? I don't believe Jesus ever called Leaders per se, rather he called normal every day people to come and enter into a deep and loving relationship with Him and through that to become shepherds to lead more people into the same relationship. In fact unlike leadership a shepherd does not stand at the front and call people to follow, they stand behind the sheep gently encouraging and ushering them in the right direction. Very different style. Jesus certainly had awesome leadership qualities that we should all follow but I think in todays church our focus is so much on leadership and growing churches, that we have forgotten how to shepherd and how to gently encourage people to develop a God relationship that is real and personal. Only when people discover this free gift will leaders rise, our churches will be filled and transformation will begin.
The most important thing in any life is the relationship with Jesus and that will take faith, adjustment and obedience. Until we get that right nothing else matters.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."