Friday, December 22, 2017
If the back door of a church is left wide open, it doesn’t matter how many people are coaxed to come in the front door—or the side door, for that matter. (For our church we have many people come through our church door for attending concerts or boy scout etc.)
Yet most churches give the back door scant attention. (We don’t know we have a back door!)
We’ve discovered lots of ways to reach people... (most of them make use of our facilities, people enjoy our music series, or Helloween Party etc.)
But we’ve often become so focused on reaching people that we’ve forgotten the importance of keeping people. And that’s the thesis of this book: Our churches need to be sticker. (Even the reaching people was never our focus, making disciples would automatically make a church stickier.)
Stickier churches are healthier churches. They not only draw in spiritual window-shoppers and lead them to Christ; they also grow them up to maturity. (for non-evangelical churches, probably there is no spiritual window-shopper are recognized, and everybody seem assume a maturity of others.)
And that, after all, is what Jesus called us to do. He didn’t tell us to go into all the world and sign people up. He told us to make disciples—a task that includes baptizing people and teaching them to obey everything he commanded. Frankly, that’s a task that takes some significant time. To pull it off, we need to be sticky.
Why "stickiness" is so important? In one of Jesus’ most famous parables, the parable of the sower, he told of a farmer casting seeds onto four types of soil, each representing a different response to the gospel.
One of the soil was so hard that nothing could germinate. Another was so shallow that the plants sprouted quickly but couldn’t dig their roots deep enough to withstand the furnace blast of a Middle Eastern summer’s day. The third kind of soil was weed infested, resulting in a crop that once again looked good for a while but eventually was choked off by what Jesus called the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things.
Only the fourth type of soil, the one Jesus called the good soil, produced a harvest. -- Now the point of this parable is straightforward: A great spiritual start is no guarantee of a happy ending. (I often wonder what the spiritual start feels like for Presbyterian Church goers.)
But somehow many of us have missed it. We’re quick to rejoice at the first signs of spiritual life—and rightfully so. (Hey, for a church without much spiritual fellowship, what are considered the signs of spiritual life?) …
Here’s the problem. No farmer would ever be satisfied with initial growth killed off before harvest. If the soil in any portion of his field produced no result at the end, he’d never plant there again. A crop that didn’t last all the way to harvest was a financial disaster. The response wouldn’t be just a shrug and an “Oh well”.
Most scholars see the soil in this parable as representing the condition of individual hearts—but the underlying principles are not only true for individuals; they are also true for the ministry of a local church.
One of the most important things it says about our churches is that stickiness matters. (Because inviting and keeping people is a major characteristic of Christ, this is His image.)
So think about it: what is your church's back door? and how can you slam it shut?