Jesus Was A Terrible Church Planter

A reading for Thursday, June 26, 2014: Matthew 20:17-28.

"Jesus was a terrible church planter," said a pastor friend of mine recently.

This friend has been engaged in a new church plant for the last year or so. He tells me about all the material he is sent to read from the experts and all the measurement tools he is supposed to use to evaluate whether or not the church is successful. It's all about numbers of people in worship and how often people come back once they have visited... stuff like that.

But my friend is a follower of Jesus Christ, and so he evaluates everything from the standpoint of following Jesus. This is his problem. "Think about it," he says. "Jesus only really ever had twelve men and a couple of women as part of his church. In the end, one sold him out for a few pieces of silver, and all the rest of the church simply disappeared. Peter denied he even knew Jesus. They walked away at the first sign of trouble. So Jesus ended his public ministry with not one member of his church, not one! Jesus was the worst church planter in history."

So maybe the way we measure faithfulness and success in the church is a little flawed. Even in our lesson today, the mother of James and John come to Jesus with a request that we probably recognize and identify with pretty well. "Put these two, my sons, in positions of authority and privilege," she says...

"How many members are in your church pastor?"

"How large is your budget?"

"How fast are you growing with new young families?"

Jesus reminds her and he reminds us that when we measure success that way as church we fail to understand what we are asking or what we are really about. We are not about the prominence and privileges of God's people. If feels good to us to consider how important we are, and how fast we are growing, but that's not how Jesus did church. The church is simply about service. Serving others with devotion and diligence. We are to serve the world, just as Jesus served the world, with our very lives. That's the way Jesus the church planter measured success. That's how you get to be a great church when you follow Jesus. All the way to the end, give it all you've got.

"What are you doing for your neighbors?"

"How much of your resources are you sharing expecting nothing in return?"

"Would anybody even notice if you were suddenly not there anymore... or would they just join another church? One with a bigger, better youth group."

Do you ever notice that all we ever seem to want to do as the church is to talk about ourselves? Jesus said, "but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Here's to thanking God today for effective church planters like my friend whose greatest desire is to follow Jesus. I'm proud to be the church with you. May God bless you and His church.


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