Published January 19, 2016
Praying is important. Probably all of us should pray more. And when we pray, we can expect God to act on our behalf.
But, if there's something we can and should do ourselves, is it God's responsibility to do it for us? Do we have a responsibility to do what we can to make things happen? Does God expect us to begin taking steps towards the answer?
Recently, we saw an article in the paper. The headline read, "Crazy Tomato giving free pizza to one lucky local small business." The article explained that on Small Business Saturday, business owners could go into the restaurant and fill out a short form. At the end of the day, the establishment would select from the entries one small business in the area and provide lunch once a week for a year for up to 50 employees. Wow! What a blessing that would be.
Now, as small business owners, we had a choice to make. We could pray that God would give us this wonderful bonus of pizzas. We'd accept it as a blessing from Him.
What we did do was go to the restaurant and fill out an entry form. We assumed that if we didn't do that, we couldn't win. In this case, prayer alone didn't meet the requirements. We needed to take steps to be in the running. So, we visited the restaurant and completed the form. (No, we didn't win.)
There are many struggling churches at this time. According to the Hartford Institute For Religious Research, the median church in the U.S. has 75 regular participants for Sunday morning worship. (Median means half of the churches in the U.S. are smaller and half are larger.)
For any struggling church or for any church concerned with church growth, I have a few questions.
- Who invited even one person to join you in worship within the past week?
- Most churches want children to be in attendance. Who went to church this weekend prepared to teach Sunday School or children's church if additional children were in attendance?
Who was prepared to lead the youth department if teens attended for the first time?
Who was watching for visitors and prepared to welcome them?
Is it enough just to pray for church growth? Is it enough to sit back and ask God to do the work?
Although I believe God does bring in people who need to be in our churches, I also believe He expects us to invite others and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ at every opportunity.
If we are too reluctant or too busy or too lazy to take steps towards filling our churches, are we going to be good stewards of people that God sends our way? Think about it.
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