Church growth is like learning to ride a bicycle (unless you are the one trying to lead the church to grow…then it is like teaching someone to ride a bicycle).
It can be frustrating…it can be long and arduous. But…the rewards are great!
As we camped last week, Maggie often requested to go ride her bicycle (with training wheels). She puts on her helmet, grabs the bike, and proceeds to the road with mom, dad, and little brother right behind her.
As if she had done this a million times, she hops up on the bike and begins to pedal herself down the road. She would ride that thing all the way around the loop of the campground. I was so proud…and impressed. She was even bold enough to take one hand off the handle and point which direction she was going. At times, I would have to jog beside her because she was just too fast. My little 2-year old is growing up.
While she did such a great job…all along the way…we had to keep teaching her one very…very…very important element to riding a bike. Look up! You see, she was so proud of herself that she was riding a bike…that she would watch her feet pedal that thing down the road. Not to mention the fact that every time mom or dad said, “Look at you!”, she took it literal and looked at herself. Obviously this would cause her to ride off into random campsites for quick impromptu visits with strangers.
When we fail to look up to see where we are headed, we fail to stay on the path that will get us to where we are going. All too often, the Church keeps itself so busy with looking at our feet…such as our ministries, our successes, our money…that we fail to keep an eye on what is ahead. The result? The result is a Church that is going nowhere at all because we have found ourselves so far off of the path that we don’t know where to go.
The Church must have a vision. The local church must have a vision. Without a vision, we are simply groups of people staring down at our feet. Sure we are proud of ourselves for what we are doing…but we are missing what God has prepared for us around the corner. So as churches, we must look up in two respects.
1. We must look to God Himself who will give us, not only our visions, but also the strength and courage to move toward that vision.
2. We must keep our eyes ahead, always looking at the path in front of us that God has laid out. When we take our eyes off of the path…we find ourselves on the wrong path.
At the conclusion of each bike ride, Maggie would ride around the bend , point in front of her, and say, “I see our camper!” She was excited because she had rode her bike all the way around and had arrived “home”.
God has a “home” prepared for each church. He has a vision for each local church and a destination…an image of what that church will look like…prepared and ready. But…if we are ever going to arrive at our destination, we must stop looking at our feet…and for Christ’s sake (literally…for Christ’s sake)…look up!