Recently, I’ve found an incredible freedom and joy in praying the Lord will grow our church. That’s new for me because I usually feel self-conscious, uncertain, or even guilty in praying for church growth. It feels unspiritual. Maybe even self-serving. If you’re not a pastor, that might sound weird. But, trust me, a lot of pastors, leaders, and Christians wrestle with the same thing.
Some of us come from traditions and cultures where church growth is everything. The only thing that matters is a trend line that moves up and to the right when we look at our attendance and offering reports. On the other hand, some of us come from traditions were church growth is greeted with suspicion. The assumption is that small churches are pure and big churches are shallow, gospel-light, feel good shows.
Honestly, I’m not really held back by either tradition. Not all fruit can be measured but healthy things do grow.
What I tend to struggle with is my motive in praying for church growth. Why do I want to see more people join our community? Is it about my ego, about job security, about feeding the idol of success that so easily tempts me? Because I can’t get clear on my motive, I tend to hold back and not do the very thing Jesus commands us to do in Scripture.
He told them, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.Luke 10:2 (CSB)
The freedom and joy I’m experiencing is coming as a direct result of this verse. Jesus doesn’t tell us to pray for attendees or givers or crowds. He tells us to pray for workers, specifically for workers who will go into the surrounding community to engage the spiritually lost with the revolutionary power of the gospel. So, I’m praying for workers. And I’m doing it without guilt, hesitation, or apology.
I’m praying because we are developing a partnership with a local middle school that is presenting us with more opportunity than we can fulfill right now. I’m praying because we have opportunities for men and women from RCC to go to Ethiopia this year. I’m praying because DC is a college town and we have so much to do to reach and disciple the next generation. I’m praying because we’re currently resettling a refugee family from Afghanistan and could use more help. I’m praying because we have plans to serve foster families in the DC area. I’m praying because our church is located right on the edge of one of the largest first generation immigrant communities in the DC area. I’m praying because the harvest really is abundant right now. But we need more help to fully meet the needs of this moment.
So, no, I’m not praying that people will leave another church and come to ours because they like the preaching better (or the music, or the kids ministry, or community groups, or whatever). I’m praying the Lord will bring and raise up partners in ministry – people who really want to move the ball in our city, people who want to see the Kingdom come here in DC, and people who want to invest their lives in things that make eternal impacts.
If you live inside the beltway and happen to read this and don’t have a church home, we would love to have you on the team at Restoration City. But wherever you are, whoever you are, would you join me in praying? Would you join me in the freedom and joy of asking Jesus to move for the glory of His name and the good of others?
Photo by Kyle Richards on Unsplash