Due to our culture’s obsession with being “successful,” many Christian leaders face a temptation to do whatever it takes to draw a crowd.
It’s become an acceptable prosperity gospel for church leaders who would never subscribe to any other version of health-and-wealth teaching.
If you really love Jesus, your church will have huge numbers.
If you’re faithful, your book and your blog will have millions of readers.
If you trust God, your ministry will grow continually.
Most leaders know better enough to say those things out loud, but it can still subtly worm its way into our thinking.
We become ministry pragmatists. Just do whatever it takes to get people in the doors. Do what needs to be done to grow your ministry.
But the church has not be called to “get people in the doors;” we’ve been given a great commission to make disciples.
Christians have not been called to “grow our ministry;” we’ve been called to be faithful on a narrow road that few travel.
The truth is those who walk through the door can walk right back out. Those who grow our ministry now can be the ones who shrink it tomorrow.
Look at Paul and Barnabas preaching in Lystra (Acts 14).
The people are so impressed with what the missionary duo is saying and doing, they begin to believe Paul and Barnabas are actually gods.
These two strange miracle working men are really Zeus and his chief messenger Hermes come down in human form.
Paul and Barnabas have clearly drawn a large audience. From Acts 14:11-18, the words “crowd” or “crowds” are used four times.
Not only do they have a crowd; they have a devoted crowd. It takes everything they can do to convince the people not to make sacrifices to them.
But these crowds that so quickly became enamored with Paul and Barnabas were fickle. In Acts 14:19, the crowds were won over by Paul’s enemies to the point where they drag him out of the city and stone him.
The crowds worshipped them as gods one day and tried to kill them the next.
Hopefully, your current church attendees, blog readers or song listeners don’t go that far, but there is no guarantee they will continue to attend, read or listen.
Your calling is not to be successful; it is to be faithful.
You cannot guarantee the crowds will stay. You can, however, work to develop a more sure foundation.
Instead of relying on attention-grabbing stunts, clickbait articles and chasing whatever is popular, you can develop a deep relationship with those who connect with your ministry.
At your church, you can strive to make disciples who aren’t easily swayed by the latest, most popular teaching.
In your personal callings like writing or music, you can work to be authentic and sacrificial in providing your readers or listeners something of significance and value.
But doing those things takes work.
Notice that Paul dusts himself off from his stoning and goes back into the city to encourage the believers there. He does the hard work of staying and investing in the new churches around the area.
Drawing a crowd is easy. Growing a healthy church or developing a committed audience requires time and effort.
Ignore the former and invest in the latter. If not, at least make sure you aren’t ever near a big pile of rocks.