The Pain of Growth
October 5, 2015
If you didn’t you probably know someone who did, maybe your own kids. You know when you were around 8 or 9 you’d
wake up with your legs aching.
variety of aches and pains when you are that age. And it’s not actually bone pain, you know
from the bones growing it’s actually a muscular pain.
doctors find most helpful in making a diagnosis of growing pains is how a child
responds to touch while in pain. Kids who have pain from a serious medical
cause don’t like to be handled because movement can make the pain worse. But
those with growing pains respond differently — they feel better when they’re
held, massaged, and cuddled.”
growing pains that that the early church went through.
and highlighted three reasons, 1) Because Jesus Commands it 2) Because the
Bible Illustrates it 3) Because Reality Demands it.
church and the pastor need to be prepared in order for growth to happen
happened in the church in those first few months. Literally thousands of people were coming to
know Jesus, were being baptized and living in community.
more like the New Testament Church or you’ll hear the pastor of a brand new
church say that their church is going to be a New Testament Church. But in the midst of all of the celebration of
new life and church growth we stumble across the scripture that was read for us
earlier, in particular Acts 6:1 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were
rumblings of discontent.
In the New Testament Church? That
doesn’t seem right at all, I mean this is just months after the Holy Spirit had
come and the church had been born.
Rumblings of discontent?
changed and didn’t remain the church that was described in Acts 2 wasn’t
because of sin, or pride or the devil.
It was because of people. People
who saw things from different perspectives, people who had different life
experiences, not better or worse life experiences, just different.
group the people themselves would have changed and that would have changed the
world view, my church view and my political views have all changed through the
years. Some would say they have evolved;
others would say they have de-evolved but regardless they have changed.
of Marlin Mull told me that there are two types of people in every church, “The
goers and the whoaers”. And I’ve met
both types, you know what he meant, those who when you talked about new things
and changes they were willing to say “let’s go”. Today we call them early
“Whoa, not on my watch”.
ago as well. There were those who
celebrated the growth of the church and those who grumbled about how things had
and he was asked “In your hundred and two years you’ve must have seen a lot of
changes?” to which he replied, “Yep, and I was against them all.”
Church Growing Pains.
church cannot and will not grow without there being some pain.
churches and it doesn’t matter if their church was a city church or a country
church they all had the same tale.
who wouldn’t be? How could you be
against church growth? That would be
wrong on so many levels. But as the
church began to grow some people began to hesitate and baulk and some even left
the church to find one they would be more comfortable in.
weren’t bad people in most cases they were good people even godly people but
people who weren’t willing to pay the price.
acknowledging that when you grow often there are growing pains.
then.” Every once in a while I’ll be
speaking to a senior and they will look at me and say with all sincerity “Don’t
get old!” And my reply is “I have a
cousin who didn’t get old, it’s not working out so well for him.”
grow. The other option is that it will
in Change. Everything changes. And growing churches change. You can’t deny that. It’s easy to look at Cornerstone and see a
static picture but it wasn’t always like it is today.
Night Bible Study, that was Bedford Community Church. Five of the seven are still actively involved
in our church today.
Wesleyan Church and we were averaging 45 in our Sunday Morning Service.
together to worship at the Lebrun centre in Bedford. 15 of those 37 are still a part of
Cornerstone. About six weeks after that
Sunday we changed again when we moved into our new building and then things
really began to changes.
service and afternoon service, and each Sunday we have people from around the
world worshipping with us live online.
and others have moved on to other churches, and other people have joined us,
and with every new person the church changes.
which is completely different than a church of 135, which is different than a
church of 295. As we grow we realize
that it is a fact of life that the church will change and it won’t be like it
Basinview Drive, since then we have met in a community centre then a movie
theatre and then back to the community centre, and at times when we got bumped
out of our rented facilities we worshipped at the Berkeley in Bedford, at
Basinview School, in a conference room in Sackville and at Fish Hatchery Park
under a tree.
had lots of room, now we have two services on Sunday morning and there are
times it is crowded. Things change.
resurrection there had been 120 who had gathered in the upper room then we read
in Acts 2:41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to
the church that day—about 3,000 in all. That
was a change, and they hardly had time to catch their breath and we read in Acts 4:4 But many
of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of believers
now totaled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children. Things change.
personality of Cornerstone. Think about
it we are not the same church we were before you arrived to make your
contribution. It becomes like a recipe
that is changed by each additional ingredient.
it has been replaced with a Toyota Corolla.
And because I was looking for basic transportation with decent mileage I
just bought the CE, which is Toyota speak for base model.
without A/C, I tried. But if you added cruise
control, a nicer interior, heated seats and a back up camera to the the CE you
would now have a Corolla LE. Add
navigation, a sun roof, push button start and satellite radio and you have the
make it different.
the change came some growing pains. And
understand that as we grow then there will be changes, not necessarily bad
changes or for that matter even good changes.
Just changes because change has to happen.
England said “He who rejects change is the
architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the
author of “If it Ain’t broke Break It” reminds us “The only people who enjoy change are babies with
wet diapers and busy cashiers.”
in Sacrifice When you start reading about the early church you discover
that almost all of the descriptions talked about their giving habits.
happen. It requires sacrifice. Sometimes lots of sacrifices.
money, but the truth is that churches can’t function without money. The money has to come from somewhere and the
Scriptures are quite clear that the “somewhere” are the people of God. There is a lot of difference between the
financial commitment needed to maintain a church and the financial commitment
needed to grow a church.
our church paying $500.00 a month rent for the community centre and some office
space, that’s pays the mortgage for two days now.
time and still a student, and Angela was leading the children’s and women’s
ministry as a volunteer.
Marilyn. Mike is paid as part time but he’s always here and Deborah and Mike
White aren’t paid at all but they serve as Missions Pastor and Pastoral Care.
By staffing for growth we are acting instead of reacting. Whatever the dollar costs are they will not
be found immediately with new growth. It
takes about two years for giving to catch up with numerical growth. If our growth is coming through conversions
it can take that long for people to accept the concept of tithing, and if we
are picking up transfer growth then might need that time to build loyalties and
two years to start giving, you can jump in anytime.
between getting people in and getting people to the place where they are
willing to serve. During the transition
period it stretches our people as they have to teach more children, lead larger
youth groups, take on the responsibilities of more Life Groups and begin new
ministries to cater to all these “new people”.
the giving up of preferences. As the church grows it sometimes grows away from
the area that we are comfortable in and yet unless those changes are clearly
wrong in light of the Scriptures we may have to surrender them in order to see
continued kingdom growth.
Moncton Wesleyan Church Manifesto”. I don’t know if they still use it
but I still quote it and part of it says, “We might
have our personal preferences about a big church or a small church, a formal
service or an informal service, a long service or a short service, gospel music
or liturgical music, fiery preaching or quiet preaching. However, if those preference dictate which
church we attend and support, then we can never experience God’s greatest
blessings, because our motives are selfish.”
sacrifice. The sacrifice of money, of
time of serving and most importantly of preferences.
in Growing Now when you think of it, this is a really obvious statement
and to a certain degree goes back to the idea of our church changing but it is
because they like being small. Whether
we are willing to admit it or not there are a lot of nice things about being a
small church. Probably the most obvious
advantage of a small church is that you know everyone.
knows you. As the church gets bigger you
start to notice there are people that you can’t quite put a name to, and there
are people who don’t know who you are.
control over what goes on. After all,
one vote in twenty has a lot more sway then one vote in two hundred. There is an intimacy in a small worship
service that is difficult but not impossible to capture in a larger
service. In a small church you usually
know what is going on at any given time.
suspect that Angela and I had been in the home of every family that made up
Cornerstone and probably had had every family from Cornerstone in our home, at
least once. Today that would be
have more of the pastor. One pastor has
more time for each person in a group of forty-five then he does in a group of
two hundred and ninety five. There are close
to 500 people who now call Cornerstone their church home.
when the Apostles knew everybody’s name and knew all the widows and were always
there to help them out, and probably wondered why it had to change.
things we are always struggling with is development and I have discovered that
for most people the community was just the right size the week they moved
in. And at that point it should have
stopped growing. In the same way most
folks think the church was the perfect size right after they started attending.
larger churches in the Maritimes, as sad as that may seem 75 % of churches have
a smaller Sunday Morning attendance then we do, but there are some here who
don’t want to lose our intimate feeling.
appeals to us, then our decision is based on selfishness. We cannot see people won to Jesus Christ and
discipled without this church growing.
saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and so we would have to make a conscious
decision to exclude people from the Kingdom of God in an attempt to make sure
that our church remains comfortable for some people.
of Jesus in Matthew
28:19-20 “Therefore, go and make disciples
of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and
the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have
given you.” He was telling them to grow the
growing, dying or dead.
children we are often content to remain children. But that isn’t what God had in His plan when
he created us, even though childhood can be a blast.
we grow and mature, but let’s not ignore that there will be growing pains as we
with our eyes open, not ignoring the problems but realizing that our God is
bigger than any problem we will encounter.
and it never has been, can God count on you to do what needs being done to
reach our community for Christ?
big that they can stop the people of God.
As we grow we need to remember the words of Benjamin
Franklin who said “There are no gains
afraid or discouraged. For the LORD
your God is with you wherever you go.”
thousand years but we still pause for the sacrament of communion to remember
what Jesus did for us. We are the church, the bride of Christ, part of the
Family of God and this morning we are going to take the time to remember what
that means for us today.