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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Maintenance Mode: Why They Fear It

Image from Reliable Plant.
They always see it this way---a church that remains without a "daughter church" is on "maintenance mode" and in danger of extinction. Yeah? Says who? I don't know where they get concepts like this and treat it as bible-truth. Just because some popular guy (or a guy with a super mega church) said it, they think it's infallible word. So they collect all what he said and make a big deal about it. They base everything they do on his words.

Church Idols

They're all prone to worship popular ministers and theologians.

What about the WORD? They've grown tired of searching the WORD and started pursuing man's words and precepts. I even heard it said that people in church have had too much of God's Word. They need to look at something else. What? Too much of God's Word? Really? They look for strategies and systems for church growth devised by some so-called church planters who have "proved" themselves by their mega ministries. And that becomes the center of everything they do.


And what about the Holy Spirit? Is there anyone in church today still genuinely led by Him? Jesus wondered once, "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" He may find a church driven by nothing but men's strategies, systems and bright (and effective) ideas, not anymore as Jesus, the apostles and Acts church were driven supernaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What men discover in their ministries blessed by God are worth considering. I read about them. But I don't make a big deal of them. I stick to the WORD and the power of the Holy Spirit, to God's ways and how Jesus did things.

On Radical Church Growth. Click here.

"Growing" Yet Dead

I know a lot of churches and denominations that produce a lot of so-called "daughter churches," planting churches everywhere and doing mission works but are desperately in maintenance mode, just the same. Remember the church at Sardis? They look alive but they're really dead. And you're dead if you think merely having lots of church planted is a surefire measure of spirituality.

Look at the Philadelphia church---it seems weak but believers there have kept the WORD and have not denied the Name. Evangelism and church planting are good. I totally agree with them. But the number of churches you have does not decide or define real spiritual growth. Often, having lots of church people or churches (and church income) doesn't mean anything. You see them all still in maintenance mode.

Word and Name

A lot of churches share the Gospel actively but compromise the Word (making it easy for people to be "saved" so they tend to adulterate God's Word) just to get lots of people into their membership. They also "deny the Name" because they let worldliness into their churches to attract non-believers and play down true repentance and holiness. Instead of true repentance and meek surrender to God, they delve on leadership development and motivational messages.

But there are churches that share the Word actively but get very few people in because they do not compromise the Word (they "have kept the Word"), keeping its purity, thus making themselves unattractive to most people and especially to the world. Churches like this may not grow numerically or produce daughter churches a long time but God approves of them because they've kept the Word and have not denied the Name. In God's eyes, these churches are really growing.

See how God delights in them:
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. [Revelation 3]
Growth is ALWAYS Spiritual

I repeat---evangelism, church planting and mission work are all important. We must strive, with the Holy Spirit's power, to do them. All believers should share the Gospel and make disciples. But impressive results do not always reflect spiritual growth. You may have them in your church and produce lots of members and daughter churches, but they don't mean anything if you compromise the Word and deny the Name.

Small churches, because they're small, are often belittled by pastors. They scorn churches they think "do not grow." They say God is not pleased if your church remains small. However, according to Revelation 3, if a small church keeps the Word and never denies the Name, the Lord will make everyone who despised that church "bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you."

I'm not saying God loves only small churches. But his priority is always spiritual quality. 

Growth in God's eyes is ALWAYS spiritual. If a church grows in number, it should also grow spiritually so God can call it "growing." He will NOT call you "growing" if you just increase in membership but not in spirit. He'll call you "dead."

Earthly Standards in Church

We're prone to earthly standards and measures. We think that big and more are always better. We see small and few as contemptuous. Well, I'm not for keeping churches small. But neither do I see big and more as ideal. I'm never impressed by big numbers. They don't mean anything, except that sometimes they show how all the jerks and unthinking prefer to stay together. 

Big and quality is always the best. But never think that big is always better than small, or small is better than big. Don't forget that, even in physical health, big sometimes means a lot of ailments and diseases are present internally. Or, small sometimes means malnutrition. You must measure growth by always using God's standards in his Word and using his wisdom to judge things.

I Came that They May Have Stress?

Pursuing artificial growth always leads to stress. And it's alarming how church ministers are increasingly becoming sickly and dying of serious diseases or obviously out of shape. Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly. Where's life in that? People look at us and wonder what abundant life  we're talking about. Jesus did not come that we may have stress and die of it. But that's what we're telling people.

Part of our message is Jesus' offer to come all who are tired and heavy laden. He will give them rest. But most pastors and church workers are totally alien to this. They love tiring themselves and hate rest. They take pride in being stressed out, exhausted, getting sick in ministry and dying like that. They think they're martyrs. They promise tired people rest in Christ but never experience it.

About radical spiritual growth. Click here.

Why don't they find rest? Because they fear being in "maintenance mode," not realizing that their hard efforts to have "growing" ministries keep them in that mode. They brag about this and that accomplishment, but they're in maintenance mode nonetheless. Maintenance here is trying to make yourself look alive (with lots of ministries, programs, activities, etc.) when in reality you're dead.

And the daughter churches they produce? Well, they should make sure they're not just synagogues of Satan because Revelation says in the last days such synagogues will proliferate pretending to be "Jews" or believers. And you're sure to be Satan's church if you came about because the Word was compromised and the Name was defiled.

What Really is Maintenance

And anyway, what's wrong with "maintenance"? Because some smart Aleck who has a big ministry said maintenance was bad, they all believe it and echo what he said. Don't we have minds of our own to decide what is right and what is not? Should we become unthinking robots of "successful" people?

For a long time, God set the Israelites in "maintenance mode" in Egypt when Joseph was still prince there. Nothing seemed to be happening to them in Goshen aside from the usual everyday things, but God was actually building them into a nation there. And nothing seemed to have been happening to Joseph in his two-year stint in jail, but he was actually being prepared for a unique leadership---leading Egypt (and the whole world) in a deadly food crisis.

If you're in Christ and nothing seems to be happening, your maintenance mode is not really just maintenance. God is cooking up something, preparing the least to be great soon. Nothing's bad about "maintaining" in Christ because if you maintain at 20 kilometers per hour speed in your spiritual life, you're still moving and covering distance though in a maintained speed rate. Get it? And in God's time, he'd speed you up.

Faithfulness, Not a Numbers Game

Genuine ministry is faithfulness to God's Word, not a numbers game. All you have to do is obey God's Word (like sharing the Gospel and making disciples) and be faithful doing it. Don't mess or tamper with with results. Leave them to God. Let him decide what your ministry will be---whether big, peopled and moneyed or small, simple and unimpressive. Just stay faithful.

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