Is All Growth Good?

fatman2Dr. Phillip Mills writes about the current infatuation with many of the current-popular church growth approaches. Certainly we can question whether it is God’s intention that every church turn into a Mega Church which I sincerely doubt. But what Mills does is question whether we are worrying about the quality of growth as much as simply growing at all costs.

Some have talked about this when speaking about our low-retention rate as well as our proclivity to equate success to putting church hoppers in seats while the total number of adherents to the Second Advent Movement remains the same in the city, but we shuffle folks around. Mills addresses these issues in his helpful way that only a physician could do.

He notes that there are many ways to grow that are not good. For example, there is Girth Growth. This is where our midsection’s simply grow out. This is not “fitness but fatness.” Could our desire to placate to the whims of the unconverted produce people who simply want what they want rather than desire the transforming power of God? Is it valuable to have a church full of consumers of our religious entertainment? Girth growth happens when we simply want people in the seats at all costs. We don’t train them as we should. We don’t love them as we should. We don’t strengthen them as we should. And we don’t expect them to use their gifts for the kingdom as we should. We just are happy with more “behinds in the seats.”

Another means of growth, spoken of by Mills, is Forced Growth. This happens when you grow out of balance. This is like when some weightlifters grow their muscle by any means necessary, without doing the other things that are necessary for health. In our religious life, we can do this by ignoring certain fundamentals that we all need to hear as Christians. When we emphasize justification, love, and salvation, but don’t also emphasize justice, sanctification, and the necessary works that a Christ produced life will bring.

Another type of growth is Neoplastic Growth. Cancer is a growth. We don’t want it, we shouldn’t want it, but some growths are cancers. They often grow fast. They take over good tissue and cause great problems. We can have such growth in our churches when we have more and more members who are not producing. We may grow fast, but what good has it done?

Stature growth is another type of growth. This is the true growth that comes when we are true followers of the most high. When we seek to teach the full counsel of God and growth happens. It is important to note, that not all churches will become mega churches, but they can all grow into the measure of Christ. That is our goal.

In the end, we must recognize that all churches are not supposed to become 20K bohemouths. We need to get out of the trap of thinking that the success of our movement is gaged in number of people sitting in front of us. In addition, we need to see our movement as being more than our local congregation and see it as a integral part of the full Advent movement whose mission has always been “The Advent Message To All The World In This Generation.” We do have a mission! Next, we need to stop judging our ministers and our people by measures that will simply promote some of these unhealthy kinds of growth.

Underestimating the Power

crossheavenThe Power of God. I had a discussion with someone a little while ago on the issue of obedience to God. The person argued that we cannot perfectly obey God because of our liabilities of being human. When I attempted to speak on the reality of obedience in the Christian life, my friend immediately told me that I was minimizing the extent and damage of sin done to humanity.
The Power of Sin

My friend continued, “Sin has placed us in a position where we cannot help but sin. Sin has totally corupted our nature to the point that sin is the logical and inevitable outcome. Sin is all we can do for we are born sinners and thus must sin.”

There does seem to be some truth here. Sin has corrupted our nature. Sin has attacked us at the core. But, my friend, accused me of minimizing the extent of the damage done by sin. To that I argue that my friend has minimized the power of God.
Obedience is based on God’s ability

If God, who created all out of things that do not appear (Hebrews 11:3), then why can’t God keep us from falling (Jude 1:24) as it says in the word?

What sin can do, I declare God can do more. Whatever evil sin can place on us, God has more power! certainly the creative power of God declares to us that God can do it.

We always talk about God making a way for us. But how about recognizing that God can make a way through us. this is why the Psalmist called for God to use that same creative power to renew his Spirit. (Psalm 51:10)

Is it possible? Was it possible that God spoke the worlds into existence? I declare that the answer to both of those questions is the same answer.
Believe it or Not, it Will Happen

Some say obedience will not happen, but John in the Revelation points to a group, he says “Here are they” essentially saying, “Here they are.” He notes that there will be a group who are identified as commandment keepers by the faith OF Jesus. They seek to live God’s life. (Revelation 14:12)

They will be obedient to the most high God. In short, just because you are not living it, or seeing it, or even believing it, don’t limit the power of God to accomplish it! So maybe I am limiting the power of Sin, but that is only in reference to the creative power of God…

The Sabbath and the Way-Maker

roadE. J. Waggoner, in Gospel in Creation writes:

The Sabbath is for the purpose of keeping in mind the creative power of God, which is His distinguishing characteristic. But creative power is the power of the gospel, so that that which celebrates creation also celebrates redemption.

The Sabbath is about celebrating creation and the creative power of God. The Sabbath is the time that we are called to remember what God can do. The Sabbath is about God’s ability to create something out of nothing.

Raw Materials for Creation

In Hebrews 11:3 we are told: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

The Sabbath is our faith building device to help us understand that everything that is seen is made of things that we cannot necessarily see or even understand. When someone says that God is a “waymaker,” that one is simply talking about God’s ability to create a way out of a way that does not appear to be open.

Deliverance from Sin in the Sabbath

The Sabbath reminds us that our deliverance from sin and holy living is not based in what we can see. We may have fallen to that same sin continuously, but the Sabbath reminds us that God is a creator, and creative power doesn’t require us to see what God is going to do.

When someone says that “God is able”, that one is simply stating that God’s creative power is not constrained by circumstances that “do appear,” but by God’s ability to create something out of nothing. And every Sabbath we come together to celebrate that power.

In the last days, God will have a people who will “worship him who made.” (Revelation 14:7). The day designed to remember this creative power is the Sabbath. Let us believe and live as if we are “Sabbath-keepers” who always seek to remember the Creative Power of God.