God alone grows churches

Christian media are reporting that Perry Noble has resigned (or been fired) as Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. NewSpring boasts a congregation of 32,000 people across more than ten campuses, each of which see Noble preach weekly via telecast.

I learned about the Noble situation when a friend commented in reaction to missiologist Michael Frost’s sharing of the story (screenshot below). I can’t tell from context whether Frost is being sarcastic when he writes, “We pay our pastors to grow our churches.”

Based on what I know of him, he likely is.

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That he could even make that statement, however, points to the reality that many Christians see pastors as the growth engine of the church.

Such a view is nothing short of idolatry. The Holy Spirit is the growth engine of the church.

When pastors are elevated to such a height, we will let you down. Every. Time.

And we should.

The apostolic witness is clear that God alone grows the church.

Pastors may participate in that work of God. We pastors may be open to God’s working and we may lay our gifts and strengths and limitations and weaknesses before God, and God may choose to grow the work.

We may do all of that and God yet decides to permit slow to no growth, or even decline.

In the end, ministry isn’t a technique and God’s ways are beyond our comprehension.