Gaining new believers is great, but it’s only half of the matter
How overwhelmed Peter must have felt looking into the faces of 3,000 new converts in Jerusalem. I’m sure he must have thought: They’ve chosen to follow Christ, but will they follow me into the mature faith necessary to carry our church forward? As Christian leaders, we know it takes effective leadership to move people from their salvation decision into mature discipleship. We also know maturity empowers blessing in their lives and enables them to bless others.
Recently my friend told me a comical story about his son’s youth football game. The score was tied 6-6 in the second half. As the opposing quarterback faded back to pass, the boys rushed in and tackled him. They immediately started celebrating, but they failed to realize that the ball had been fumbled. The other team ran it in for a touchdown and won the game. My friend said with a smile, “Our boys made half a great play.”
As a pastor I get pretty excited when people choose to accept Christ. Then I’m reminded that we’re only halfway there. I still have the formidable task of maturing them so they can fulfill their potential.
We know God wants His people to live blessed and to be a blessing. But managing their maturity process isn’t easy. Gaining an understanding of how God views His church helped me oversee the maturity process of our congregation better. God describes His church the following ways:
In pastoring the same people 19 years, I’ve found that love and service flow freely when church becomes family. We were created to connect. Most people initially come to church to hear messages, but they stay in church because of meaningful relationships. The early church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship (see Acts 2:42).
We all find fulfillment in watching our flock become a healthy family that ministers well as the body of Christ. The good news is, we can get there growing one day at a time into God’s purposes.
Jim Graffis the pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria, Texas, and founder of Significant Church Network.