For Pastors: Mark Dever on Church Numbers, Growth, the Size of Your Church, Your Popularity, and Your Spirituality
Mark Dever has speaks some helpful truth here to the small church and large church pastor that gets us re-calibrated considering the pressures in church culture, the larger society, and the pride of our own hearts. I want to reflect on a few things he says here.
Update: The youtube video was made private so I embedded the whole vimeo video. The youtube video started at 15:21.
Paul and Scripture aren’t primarily concerned with how big one’s church is. We are. I sadly get off track with what my primary concern is.
It’s hard for me to not be a numbers guy with CrossView being small and financially unable to sustain itself. I’d love to be free like Dever. I’m not excused for my mistaken focus. We have a financial situation at CrossView where the offering and giving is not sustainable for my family and thus we also rely on outside support. So I get concerned with the number of members at our church at this point. I need to focus on providing for my family, but I also need to value what God values and not get pressed and shaped by the financial, social, or ecclesial pressure for bigger church numbers as an end in themselves or as a means to feeling personally secure.
I was encouraged by the statement: there are good churches of 30 and 3000, and there are horrible churches of 30 and 3000. So true, yet so easily forgotten in the trenches (for me at least). I think our church is doing fairly well as a church of 33, though our areas of need and growth are still large. This is no time for our church to sit back contented, and this is no time for me to sit back as a pastor without striving for greater health and faithfulness.
Mark guards well against both errors of saying small churches are better than big churches and big churches are better than small ones. The way the size of the church plays out in the particular dynamics (equipping, oversight, accountability, membership, discipline, etc.) settles the issue of what makes a good church.
Mark explicitly denounces Joel Osteen‘s teaching as Satanic (2:02). I agree. It takes boldness to say things like this in public but it must be said by those who are faithfully preaching and teaching God’s truth to people. We must say what God says and deny what God denies. I’m not saying everyone needs to denounce Joel Osteen or other false teachers every sermon, but when the topic comes up or when it is relevant to the discussion or topic at hand and it will transfer discernment and health to one’s hearers, one must speak.
Our role is to be faithful to evangelize, shepherd, and expose people to God’s truth and to God himself in Christ. As a pastor, we must clearly know our role and be faithful to it. Adoniram Judson is a great example from history. Know your church history. More importantly, learn from church history and our brothers and sister who’ve gone before us.
Hebrews 13:17 scares me! I have to give an account to God for my leadership and shepherding at CrossView Church and for my time at CFBC before. I just confessed my sin of unfaithfulness to Christ and the church in regard to praying for them and overseeing their souls individually as members of the church. They graciously forgave me. Time to move forward!
You can listen/watch Mark’s message and listen/watch the whole question and answer discussion online.