Thursday, June 08, 2017

Focus on Influence, Not Size (The Presence-Driven Church)

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Raining in my backyard

Reading Eugene Peterson's The Pastor: A Memoir, solidified in me an idea
I have had for many years. Which is: as a pastor and Jesus-follower,
I am to desire influence, rather than size in terms of numbers of people. 
I don't think it is important how big a church is. I think it is important 
how influential a church is. Influence, not size, is what really matters.  

By "influence" I mean the kind of things Jesus talked about when he used 
metaphors like "salt" and "yeast." "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus said (Matthew 5:13). 
A little bit of salt can flavor a lot of food. What's needed are salty Jesus-followers.

Salt influences food rather than it is influenced by it. Salt is active, not passive. 
So, I am to influence the world, rather than being influenced by it.

Non-salty "Christians" are, in Jesus' eyes, "no longer good for anything, 
except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." (Matthew 5:13)

Jesus-followers are to influence and salt "the earth," which mostly takes place 
outside the walls of the church building. I now think of my philosophy students. 
For most of them, "church" flavors nothing about their lives. They can't taste "church" at all. 
I attribute this to a lack of influence.

How many people are in my church? Wrong question! Instead, ask, How salty is my church? 
Is it influential as regards Jesus and the Kingdom? Focus on influence, by disciple-making.

And, be yourself influenced by Christ. Such influence flows from the Vine to the branch 
as one continuously abides in Christ. The focus is not on numbers but staying connected 
to Jesus. This results in a daily being-influenced by him.

The core prayer of a Jesus-following pastor is not, “God, supersize us!” It is, “God, use us.” 
At this point numbers do not matter. My understanding of church history is that cultures, 
communities, and even nations that began to follow Jesus did so as a result of what 
God was doing in a small number of Christ-abiding, salty people.

My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (coming late summer 2017)

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God