Thursday, October 01, 2009
Closing The Back Door
What surprised Larry was that freedom that ‘killing that dream’ gave him. Now, instead of looking only for people to come in the ‘front door’ of the church, he now took more time to minister to the people God had already given him. In fact, he found that doing so allowed him to effectively close the ‘back door’ of his church. More people were staying than leaving. He was able to build into the lay leaders he already had. And he began to see organic growth begin to happen.The problem with Evangelicalism is that it confuses evangelism with being the church - they are two very different things. Evangelism is one, and only one, of the myriad things the church is supposed to be about.
Larry says that closing the back door really brought about three big changes for him and his church...
1. It changed the way he related to his lay leadership team. Larry says, “When most of my focus was on getting more people through the front door, the inner workings and interpersonal relationships of the board seemed more like a nuisance than an important part of our ministry.
2. It changed the way he taught and led his church. According to Larry, “Focusing on the front door aimed everything at two kinds of people: the not-yet Christian or the super saint who was ready to help me charge the hill. There wasn’t much room for people who came to Christ but didn’t grow at a fast enough pace or carried lots of baggage.
3. It caused Larry to start a small group ministry focused primarily on building significant relationships rather than growing the church.
The end result: “We became a noticeably stickier and healthier church. The back door slammed shut, and to my surprise more people than ever began coming through the front door?
The problem is we want numbers so we ignore the natural winnowing that occurs as we call people deeper and deeper into a life with Christ. Christ closes the parable of the king and the wedding feast by saying "many are called, few are chosen." I don't hear this parable discussed much - it's a difficult one. Christ is certainly condemning the Pharisees, but he seems to be saying more.
In the parable Christ seems to say we will cast a wide net for who comes to the feast, but not everyone that comes will stay. The problem is, we seem to stop with the casting of the net. There is no wedding feast for people to stay for. We invite people to something that simply is not there. They must go out the back door to find it.
If you are called to cast the net - go and do it, but do not confuse that with building the wedding feast. You are but one of the slaves dispatched.