I knew exactly how to raise kids… before I had kids. I remember watching parents in the grocery store struggle with their tantrum-throwing toddlers writhing in the bread aisle. In those moments, I would roll my eyes and think to myself, “When I have kids, that kind of thing won’t happen.”
Then I had kids. And it soon became apparent that I knew nothing about parenting. My self-assured pride quickly turned to self-loathing over my inability to keep my own toddler children in check.
What was true at home is now true at church.
Before I became a campus minister last year, I knew exactly how to run a church. I remember watching various pastors lead their congregations and I would think to myself, “If I was a pastor, I would know how to get the church growing.” I was confident that certain sermons and strategies I could concoct would grow a church into a blossoming body of believers.
Then I became a church leader. It is now very apparent that I knew almost nothing about leading a campus church. My self-assured pride is being crushed by unmet expectations. I must confess that being a new campus minister has broken and humbled me. And God is pleased with that.
James 4:6 – God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
I lead a small campus church in Fleming Island Florida that is trying to gain her feet. We have a strong team of committed servants who drip sweat for the sake of the gospel each week. And yet, we haven’t really grown much in the four months that we’ve been holding services.
I watch other fledgling churches burst onto the scene with the enthusiasm of a Disney parade as the crowds follow. Meanwhile, our campus church is lucky to fill 50 seats on a good Sunday. When I preach, I often see rows of empty plastic cafeteria chairs. Inevitably, it feels like a verdict on me; tempting me to despair over the possibility that I’m a nobody and a poser.
The Enemy’s Two Weapons
The enemy wants us in one of two places. He either wants us prideful over success, or despairing over failure. Both of those postures are rooted in man-centered pride and are barriers to real spiritual transformation. If Satan can’t succeed in tempting us into pride or despair, then growth can happen the way the Lord intended it. Its not the numerical growth that is fueled by talented leaders and flashy stage shows. It’s the real spiritual growth that thrives on the limitless power of faithful members, who are led by a broken and humble pastor.
I’m confident that the Lord is doing something in us that is reaping sweet spiritual fruit. Thankfully, God isn’t demanding fruitfulness, He just asks for faithfulness. For that reason, numerical growth is not our true measure of success, although it is a goal. Relentless faith is the real measure of success, and pleasing God is our ultimate aim.
It is possible to displease God while growing a crowd. But without faith, it is impossible to please God. As a church campus, we aren’t much to look at but it thrills me to know that God sees the faithfulness of our few and is pleased.
If you are looking for a church home, please come check us out.
We meet on Sundays at 5pm at Paterson Elementary in Fleming Island, Florida.