It is disturbing how much of our Church is built around the cult of celebrity. In some circles, church planting has fallen into that trap, but Henry Blackaby reminds us of something oft forgotten, “There is a big difference between drawing a crowd and building a church; marketers can draw a crowed, cults can draw a crowd, but only God’s people can build the Kingdom.”
If you are going to grow God’s Church, then this story from the Old Testament offers some good insight.
“[During a great time of famine,] a man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord. ” – 2 Kings 4:42–44, (ESV)
This story is a model of movement; meeting a man where he was (the city of Baal’s provision) and taking him where he needed to be. If we are gong to be integrous leaders who build Churches; not personal followings, then model this approach.
• First, Leaders must recognize that people will come because of some need. In preceding story, the man left behind his city god, “Baal-Shalishah:” not because he had a deep inner need for “God”, but because his life was messed up and he needed help.
• Second, Leaders must help people move forward past their need. Elisha did this by introducing this man to his God (Elohim) and letting the man know that Elisha’s God could meet his need.
• Third, Leaders must move forward and recognize that people need role-models. This man did not take a step of faith because he loved God, he moved forward because he saw in Elisha something to be trusted and admired. There is nothing wrong with being a charismatic leader who draws people to the church. There is nothing wrong with designing programs that will connect people to the church. But…
• Fourth, Leaders must move forward and connect people to their Creator. The man in our story trusted Elisha and experienced a blessing. Elisha then taught this man not to follow him, but to follow “God” (YHWH).
• Fifth, Leaders must move forward allow people to enter into God’s Dream. It is great to have a well thought-out Philosophy of Ministry and statement of purpose, but ultimately God’s dream is bigger.
What are you building?