Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California urged church leaders to focus on obedience to God’s mission rather than boosting congregation numbers, as “fast growth can be cancer.”
“I’m not really impressed with ministries that grow fast. Fast growth can be a cancer,” Warren said at the Closing Gala of Proclaim 19, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Anaheim, California, last month. “What I am interested in is the long haul — people who consistently serve Jesus Christ year after year after year.
“I’m interested in finishing well, and I want you to finish well. Your ministry matters to God. It matters to the Kingdom. We need you to stay in the race. We need you to not get tired. We need you to not quit. We need you to not give up. We need you to finish your race.”
With church attendance plateaued or declining nationwide, Warren outlined several ways church and ministry leaders can fight discouragement, beginning with, “Never forget how much God loves me.”
“You’ve got to keep that constantly in focus,” he reminded attendees. “Everything in your ministry flows out of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s grace. The problem is we can get so busy working for God, we forget how much God loves us. Your first purpose in life is not to love God. Your first purpose in life is to let God love you. The Bible says you were created as an object of God’s love.”
Second, he encouraged pastors to avoid the temptation to “fake it,” adding: “If you’re going to be used by God, if you’re going to be effective for God, if you’re going to last in ministry, you’ve got to be authentic, you’ve got to be genuine, you’ve got to be yourself. You’ve got to keep it real.”
God, the pastor contended, “did not create you to be somebody else” — and those who focus on pleasing everyone end up experiencing ministry burnout.
“When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to say, ‘Why weren’t you more like Billy Graham?’ The reason we try to fake it is because we try to please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what even God can’t do. Even God can’t please everybody.”
Third, Warren emphasized that ministry leaders need to be outward-focused, as those who are focused on themselves quickly become discouraged.
“Every time you forget about this principle and you forget that it’s not about you, you’re either going to get fearful or you’re going to get prideful or you’re going to get bitter in ministry,” Warren said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett