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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, July 12, 2002
Church Growth
One of my erring students asked what the requirements for a successful ministry are. My reply is “God didn’t call me to be successful - He called me to be faithful.” I fear that this deluded young man has been seduced by the “Church Growth Movement” and fallen prey to the idea that congregations with large crowds are, by definition, successful churches.

The scriptures give us a different meaning of success altogether. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:24-25) the wisest of the stewards says, “Lord, I know that thou art an hard man reaping where thou hast not sown and gathering where thou has not strawed. And I was afraid and hid thy talent in the earth: lo there thou hast that is thine.” Clearly success is not in our hands but is strictly in the hands of God. It is our job to hide the talent and keep it safe until our Lord’s return. God doesn’t want us to be successful; He wants us to be faithful in protecting the sanctity of the gospel.

In spite of what this young man thinks, numerical success is actually a sign of compromise with the world. “Narrow is the way and few there be that find it,” is proof that the gospel has a limited appeal and if we are preaching the truth we won’t see big crowds. We are the faithful remnant, the few, the proud, the Pharisees. A sanctified church is a small church precisely because we don’t appeal to the lost of this world.

Rest assured that big crowds and a popular message are proof of a lack of holiness and a sure sign of appealing to the flesh. The gospel is not popular with the world. Truth is not popular. After all, they crucified Jesus, did they not? Therefore if you are experiencing popularity or you are part of a large congregation, then it is a clear sign that you are not practicing the Truth.
Our primary job is not to appeal to the masses and run the risk of casting pearls before swine or giving that which is holy to dogs. Our job is to safeguard the gospel, to keep it pure and untainted from any corruption that is in the world, to protect it from error and not to put it at risk before an undiscerning crowd of heathen. I expect when our Lord returns that I will be rewarded for keeping the pure, undiluted truth of his word in safekeeping instead of appealing to the crowd.


“You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents . . . And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 25:26-30 (NIV)

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