Banner

"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Contributors

  • Rev. John Samson
  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

    top250.jpg

    Community Websites

    Monergism Books on Facebook

    Blogroll

    Latest Posts

    Categories

    Archives

    Ministry Links

  • « Slavery & Racism in the Bible | Main | TULIP Summary »

    The Numbers Game

    J. I. Packer, in his book, "A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah" (Wheaton: Crossway, 1995), 207-209, writes:

    “I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before. Church-growth theorists, evangelists, pastors, missionaries, news reporters, and others all speak as if

    (1) numerical increase is what matters most;

    (2) numerical increase will surely come if our techniques and procedures are right;

    (3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does;

    (4) numerical increase must be everyone’s main goal.

    I detect four unhappy consequences of this.

    First, big and growing churches are viewed as far more significant than others.

    Second, parachurch specialists who pull in large numbers are venerated, while hard-working pastors are treated as near-nonentities.

    Third, lively laymen and clergy too are constantly being creamed off from the churches to run parachurch ministries, in which, just because they specialize on a relatively narrow front, quicker and more striking results can be expected.

    Fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy temperament and not-so-flashy gifts return to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, concluding that the pastoral life of steady service is a game not worth playing.

    In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.

    Shrinking spiritual stature and growing moral weakness thence result, and in pastoral leaders, especially those who have become sure they are succeeding, the various forms of abuse and exploitation that follow can be horrific.

    Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.

    The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.”

    Posted by John Samson on July 18, 2013 12:45 PM

    Comments

    A nugget of great wisdom. How our hearts need to grasp this close.

    Post a comment

    Please enter the letter "c" in the field below: