Dear Preacher Abernathy

Yes, you already have informed me that you have had to expand the size of your sanctuary three times over the past decade due to the increase in your attendance.  I am sure that you do have the latest sound system and clearest projection system offered.  True, you could continue to increase the attendance of your church until there is no more room once again.  You could provide everything that people want, love, and value.  Yet, if you are not being guided by the Holy Spirit, you might as well have nothing at all.

You express great joy for your building, great pleasure in everything your congregation offers, and great pride in the number of people sitting in your pews.  Unfortunately, you have a fatal misunderstanding in “church growth.”  Church growth has less to do with the number of warm bodies in your large sanctuary and more to do with the spiritual sustainability of the community of faith.

Though the Apostle Paul desired to boast of nothing but Christ, you boast of nothing but yourself.  As you clearly stated, you started the congregation.  You speak to everyone.  You lead the building projects.  You even lead the singing on Sunday mornings.  You choose the programs offered by your congregation.  Sadly, I must point out that you are the “church.”  You are the only leader, and nothing is done without your say.  The basic definition of a church is what’s left after the building has burned down and the pastor has been moved.  You do not have members sitting in the pews; you have an audience waiting to be entertained by you.

True church growth cannot be measured by numbers.  How would you measure an individual’s spiritual growth?  How do you measure the distance a person has walked with their Lord?

If you continue to remain the center of your “church” and not Christ, then your ministry will fail.  As the Angel of the Lord spoke to Zechariah, it is “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” [Zechariah 4.6].  Therefore, not by eloquent preaching, not by wonderful music, not by great programs, but it is by the Spirit that God completes His mighty work.  You are simply tickling people’s ears and not allowing your congregation the opportunity to open their hearts to all that God can do in their lives.

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