When a man goes somewhere to evangelize and then to start a church, and it doesn't happen -- no church comes out of it -- was there something wrong with him? Does there have to be something wrong with him? He preaches the gospel. He sees some professions of faith. He follows-up on those professions. Few people stick. Very few are faithful to meet. The church never gets off the ground. Is this an indication that he doesn't have what it takes to do it?
Let's go a step further. Some other man does see a church go. The converts stick and the numbers grow to the extent that the church is even self-supporting, and the church never gets above a hundred. It stays between 40 and 80 for years. People come. Some go. The bucket empties about the same speed that it is filled, so it stays always in about the same place numbers-wise. Can you judge that man to be lacking? Is he to be respected less than someone who has more people meeting? Is the man who has 200 doing more right? And then the man with 500 even more? The man with a thousand, even more? And if it is 10,000, that man is even better, maybe the best?
Is the above true? Is the above how we decide the value of someone? Is this how God evaluates this?
A man goes to a community and he persists at preaching the gospel to everyone. No one listens. He goes to the next town over and tries it there. No one listens. Can we conclude that he's doing something wrong?
What People Say Is Happening With Little to No Results
Through my years, I have heard a number of evaluations of those who do not ever pastor a large church. One is that he is lacking in power. He is preaching, but it is "word only" preaching that is not accompanied with power. If he would do a serious self-evaluation, he would probably find hidden sin, and he should confess that in a very contrite, penitent way, shed tears over it. Then he should pray for power -- fall on his face and plead and spend time of earnestness and real hunger for the power of God on the work. If he were to do that without ceasing for enough time, no objective time limit, but going and going and going like that, as some point, he might break through and have that power.
The lifelessness in his church, i.e., lack of converts, baptisms, numerical growth, comes because he doesn't have the power of God. He needs to do what it takes, whatever it takes to get it. The reason he is either grounded or just creeping is because he is doing it in his own strength without the overcoming and overwhelming power that would make it happen. Many could testify of this power, and they have taken off and exploded because of power. If you plead for souls, God will give them to you.
Second, God isn't going to give a man numbers that won't be able to do something with those numbers. He should be thanking God that he hasn't seen much happen, because, if he did, he'd be even worse off. God will only give him what he can handle. He gives the big numbers to the men who know what to do with them.
Third, the man is lacking in gifts. The numbers will come equal to the gifts that he has. People aren't interested in what he has to give. People will be like ants around honey if he's got the honey. The lack of interest comes because he just doesn't have the gifts. He's not a gifted teacher or preacher. He won't get where the gifted preachers and teachers are, because he's just not got what they've got.
Fourth, he doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't know how to close the back door. He turns away seekers, because he isn't seeker sensitive. He doesn't offer people what it is that will get them to come and then keep them coming. He doesn't have the skill set. He doesn't have that basic knowledge pool to pull it off. He might need to change his thinking entirely and think outside of the box, but where he's at, isn't getting it, because he hasn't got it figured out. Everything can be figured out.
Fifth, he's majoring on minors and minoring on majors. He turns people off with all the scruples and standards. People are not comfortable. He has shrunk the tent with non-essentials. There must be a spirit of acceptance and toleration. What isn't essential should be ejected. Simplify the vision and mission statement. Those might be your own personal convictions, but don't lay those on everyone else.
Answering What People Say
This is going to take at least two steps, perhaps two or three posts. The first step is answering the above mentioned things said. They are things I've heard, perhaps you've heard. They should be evaluated of themselves. The second step is to talk about how men are evaluated, how their deeds are evaluated, and understanding what success is, according to God. I don't think it will likely change much. Men will still be judged wrongly, and the wrong people will be exalted on earth. This reminds me of what God told Baruch in Jeremiah 45:5: "seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." That's a part of the solution for anyone feeling sorry for himself in this matter. But let's move to answering the above.
One is that he is lacking in power. There are many different ideas, true and false, about power, and we're talking about power from God. This is mystical power that someone possesses to use in one sense like the two witnesses in Revelation, who can breath out fire to destroy enemies. Just turn your flame thrower on someone. If this was available, that is, some ability to make others crumple before you and give you the results you desire, then why isn't it being used everywhere? The ones that have it should keep open the faucet and let it flow until all the work on earth is finished. They don't, because they really don't have anything special in the way of power. They just say they do. The say they do like Charismatics say they do.
There is no biblical basis for this power. It is invented out of extra-scriptural stories and then backed by eisegesis from a verse and a phrase. There are no biblical examples of what it is that men are saying that either happens or is not happening in the way of power. The stories provide the same type of evidence as those told by Charismatics. They are no authority to be trusted. I'm saying that this kind of power is not taught in the Bible. Jesus Himself didn't use it. If Paul had it, he should have turned on that faucet in Athens.
A corollary to this is faithlessness, faith being the persuasion that this mystical experience will occur. If you don't believe it will, because you don't see it in scripture, you are still lacking in faith and limiting God by it. The men I have seen talk about this power the most are also men who use various sorts of human means to produce their results. I don't believe this lack of power is ever the issue in whether someone is successful in Christian leadership or not.
Second, God isn't going to give a man numbers that won't be able to do something with those numbers. This point is nowhere in the Bible. I've heard men say that early in their ministries, when they weren't seeing much happen, it was because they weren't ready yet to handle those results that they would have in the future. God could have been saving people then, but He knew that He shouldn't start saving great numbers of people until there was a man who could take care of them properly. Do you think that God could have overcome the man with the necessary abilities to do something with numbers, and then give him numbers? No, the man becomes fit for numbers and then God gives them to him. If you aren't going to become fit for amazing growth, then God won't give it to you. How do you become fit for it? Shouldn't we be giving those special abilities to all men, so that they could all partake? This isn't in the Bible, and it doesn't make any sense, like things often don't when they are unscriptural.
Third, the man is lacking in gifts. By lacking in gifts, we mean missing out on abilities to hold people's interest and make them want to be with you. This is one of these that I think is possible, because the Spirit does divide severally as He will. Someone might not get the giftedness necessary to pastor. That could be the case. However, where it goes wrong is in the way this is evaluated in this particular explanation. If your church stays small, it relates to gifts. Argument over. If it gets big, well, those were gifts too. The men, who see their church get much bigger than others, are special men. You can chalk it up to their abilities.
More to Come