Wow. After last Sunday, I’m still scratching my head! Where did all of those people come from? Did you know that the last two Sundays, our attendance has jumped by almost 350 new people!? (& it’s more like 600 if we compare it with our mid-summer attendance slumps). Do you guys realize how crazy that is!?!? People said, “You’re gonna grow fast!” But I had no idea that we’d be packing out both our services all ready!
Sure, many of these were our college student coming back to Minneapolis for class; but, did you see all of those young families? Wow! God is really doing something.
And what’s amazing to me is the sheer quantity of people who’ve never really been in church before… or at least in a contemporary worship church before. (I’ve had numerous people recently call me “Father Peter.”) Not surprisingly, I’ve had the sudden revelation that: We’re not merely a church of evangelicals or charismatics. We are officially a spiritual hospital for all types of people – believers, unbelievers, and those in-between.
But we need to celebrate this! Seriously, many of you leaders have worked your tails off trying to put this together. I wish I could plan some sort of big old-testament style feast — maybe we should slay some big animal this Sunday and roast it (…or maybe not) In fact, if you see a ministry captain or leader anywhere, make certain you pray for them and bless them. After all, this growth wasn’t a total surprise. Many of our leaders have been working hard to reach out to our community.
I was recently telling our elders a word that the Lord spoke to my conscience recently. Once you all get to know me, I’m somewhat of a “church health” guru. I’d rather have a healthy church than a big church. In some ways, we’ve purposefully gone out of our way to avoid marketing Substance. I almost wanted to hold back the growth so that we can get our leadership teams built up better. (After all, growth without infrastructure just puts more political pressure on me!) Yet, as I was in prayer, the Lord showed me that my motives were a bit selfish.
I kept sensing the Lord ask me: “Peter, what is health? “ “What degree of Bible knowledge does a person need before they are healthy?” And I kept getting this image of a portable triage hospital just behind the front lines of a war.
In case you don’t know: In a hospital like this, the doctors have to keep a rather extreme priority scheme. It’s not like a normal hospital where little kids with hang-nails get equal attention as people with broken arms. They have to prioritize the life-threatening people. And after having this image, I had this sense that, God wants us to be that mobile military hospital.
We are going to have a disturbing number of needs that we will be unable to meet. We are going to have long term Christians wanting programs for themselves and their families while we have new believers quietly dying on our doorsteps.
And I had this sense that our priority scheme is going to be disturbing to long-term Christians who are accustomed to being in slower growth churches… where they are accustomed to having their hair stroked by a never-ending list of “comfort programs”. You know… programs that are valuable for Christian growth… but are hard to maintain when you’re constantly giving spiritual CPR to lost people.
But more than this. I also sensed from my conversation with the Lord that many of our leaders are going to pick up burdens that God has never called us to carry. And if you’re a leader who is reading this, remember this: This is God’s church, not ours! He’s never called anyone to burn out for him. And if we need to simplify our lives and experience a little more church chaos, then so be it. Feeding the multitudes has never been a problem for God. It’s only a problem for those of little faith.
So as we move forward. Let’s look to heaven. Let’s offer our loaves and fish. Let’s give thanks! And let’s celebrate our growth! And as the Bible says: “Let’s party like it’s 1999.” (Or… maybe that’s not from the Bible… I think that verse is in 2 Prince 4:5 … one of those Apocryphal books)
No… but seriously! I love you guys. And as we celebrate and Sabbath, let’s trust the Lord to take care of all these delightful new people!