“If you were a good pastor, do you think our church would grow?” – Ivy to me.
She did not come up with this on her own. It is a line of thought often running in my head. And I imagine that it has come out vocalized in my frustration.
I am not sure if this thought is true. It is kind of like blaming a parent for the actions of their adult child. The mom or dad definitely has influence. When the child is young we have lots of influence, but we never have complete control and it is always decreasing. So we guide, direct, pray – but in the end the child will make his or her choice. Better parenting may produce a better adult. But not necessarily.
Is the same true for better pastoring?
My personality is such that I believe in myself. This is a fantastic trait – as no change seems impossible. But it is also dangerous – as some changes are impossible. We can not change another person’s thoughts. There is no inception – putting thoughts directly into another’s mind. A person must choose to change. Even God doesn’t change thought.1
We can certainly influence. Provide logic. Live an example. In this way we do plant thoughts. But in the end the person chooses to accept – to allow thoughts to take root and grow. Or they choose to reject. Even more importantly, the person must choose to apply – how many truths are believed in the mind, but unapplied to our actions?
So, will our church grow?2 I have some influence on this reality. I hope I make the odds better – may the odds ever be in our favor. But in the end the choice is not my own. Each of us must choose to answer the most basic question of invitation:
“Come and Follow Me”
1 God created choice. First with the tree. Then He recreated the choice with the coming and calling of Christ. He does not force people into the Kingdom, but gives the choice, “Come and Follow me.” Some, as the rich young ruler, walk away…
This also answers the question, “Where is God?” God does not force His will. He is inviting us to change. Accepting His invitation, He enters into to life to create change. To build His Kingdom. At times He brings miracles. At other times, He invites us to be His hands and feet. Which is also a miracle – that we may act as Christ.
2 Grow? For me the essence of growth is not numeric. Though I hope for growth in numbers. The goal for me is that we, as individuals, grow in our likeness of Christ. That we may love and live as He did. I think this life – the life following him – produces numeric growth. As the world is attracted to the life of Christ. Attracted to sacrifice.