(It is important that you read here before this post makes sense.)
THERE HAS BEEN SOME PRUNING TAKING PLACE AND SOME LITTLE FOXES HAVE BEEN PLAYING IN THE VINEYARD.
AS THE YEARS GO BY the pastor gets a bit bored. He is not as good at maintaining vineyards as he is building vineyards. But the salary is good; he has terrific clout in the community. One can’t just up and walk away from that! So he rationalizes that he must be doing God’s will or God would not be blessing him with all those benefits.
AS HE LOSES HIS STEAM, the members of the congregation look for more exciting fields, which they find in the form of the minister down the street. But all his congregation are not church hoppers so about seventy percent stick with him.
AFTER HIS PINNACLE of success he now has less than 500 people. How can that be? So he buys the latest books on church growth, invests in more sound equipment, bought gray carpet and painted the walls black, enlarged the parking lot, hired another staff assistant, and added a nursery worker. They have averaged 35 new members each year. But they have lost more than they have gained! The Board has managed to keep his salary up. So he stays. He keeps his spirit up by telling and retelling how his church grew ten-fold in just three years!
LET’S CHECK A FEW “WHAT-IFS.” What if he had called for a period of fasting? What if he had scheduled a prayer meeting for all the leaders of the church? (I asked a pastor to do this one time regarding some issue that I don’t remember. But I remember his response. He said those people already did their work and he was not going to ask more from them.) What if he had changed his opening of the service from “Praise and Worship” to prayers of repentance? What if he had followed the pattern of Hezekiah’s great revival? (2 Chron chap 29-31) Hint: Hezekiah began by purifying the temple. What if instead of preaching one morning, he walked to the pulpit, knelt down, and wept in prayer? I’ve never seen that happen, but I would bet most of the congregation would have followed his example. Spectators would come next Sunday!
WHAT IF HE HAD FACED the fact that he was used by God to build churches, not to pastor them? Maybe he should have let that young fiery preacher take the church? I have plenty of evidence by Apostle Paul that that was his normal procedure. But then Paul never did make much of a salary!
I’ve still got plenty to say. As of now, I plan two more posts on this subject. It is helpful to me, if you leave comments. Guide me in the right direction. Remember I am doing this, not to criticize the church, but to lead us to take responsibility for what is happening in our culture and country. The Lord reacts to the goings-on of his people, not to the evil ones. Remember 2 Chron 7:14. Also let me know if you are interested in the “revival pattern” I see in the Hezekiah story. It might be worth reworking if you are interested.