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bigger does not always equal better.

February 5, 2009

There’s an unspoken standard of value at every church leadership conference I’ve ever been to.  If it were a math equation, it would look something like this…

A = B x C

A = your value (or “coolness”) as a ministry leader

B = the number of people in your ministry

C = how fast your ministry is growing

That’s it.  If you sit down next to another ministry leader, it’s like he’s waiting until the right moment when he can appropriately ask you “So, how many you runnin’?” like a high school guy trying to wriggle into a nonchalant way of asking if the hot girl he’s sitting next to is single.

I want to clear the air for us as a church right now.  Bigger does not equal better.  Faithfulness to God and his Word equals better.  There are churches of 10,000 that aren’t doing jack for God’s kingdom and there are churches of 30 that are famous in heaven right now for their kingdom work.  I can tell you right now how we could make The Bridge a really big church.  Here are the steps…

  1. Hire a cooler, funnier pastor that’s good at business marketing (of course, I’d have to leave immediately!)
  2. Stop “wasting” so much money on missions and put it toward better sound equipment and website development.
  3. Make Sunday morning the biggest, flashiest show you can make it.
  4. Don’t preach anything “too heavy” and avoid controversial topics at all costs.
  5. Hire charismatic, big-personality staff members instead of focusing on godliness and Bible-loving traits.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes confession I want to share with you from our last elders’ meeting.  Jim, Dennis, and I were brainstorming early thoughts for church-wide goals this year and the first one out of my mouth was, “I want to at least double in attendance in 2009.”  That was my first one.  Praise Christ for giving us godly, wise elders at The Bridge.  After a pregnant pause one of our elders gently said, “Let’s do what God has called us to do in His Word and leave the numbers up to Him.”

Yes.  I love this church.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t focus on the spread of the gospel – in fact, I’d argue that it ends up meaning we focus on evangelism MORE.  What this means is that we focus on things like “shepherding the flock”, preaching The Word faithfully even when it’s hard or controversial, engaging in radically missional living, praying like God really hears us, and cultivating grace-filled relationships within the body.

If we focus on those things, there’s no telling what HUGE things God will bless The Bridge to do in Spring Hill…

PS – a TON of people have been looking for the mp3 of this week’s sermon on the gospel and homosexuality.  It’s up for download here.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    February 5, 2009 6:53 am

    Great blog! I would love to have more people doing setup, children’s ministry, etc. for the Bridge. I wish we had a building with lots of “stuff.” I look around and see churches close that have those things and sometimes envy them. However, then I remember that I will never be the same because of the last 5 years that I have spent at the Bridge. I cannot say that about the 32 years before I came to the Bridge. I love you guys!

  2. Seth Massa permalink
    February 5, 2009 9:22 am

    Hey Josh. Just came by to say hi, and thanks for putting up all those sermons. It’s very cool to be a part of your church, even though I’ve never actually been there.

    Love you man.

  3. February 5, 2009 12:12 pm

    @ Seth, why don’t you come by and visit sometime?

  4. February 5, 2009 12:17 pm

    @ Josh, Thanks for confessing this Josh. I’m sure most of us have been persuaded to believe at one time or another that big numbers always equal a church that authentically loves Jesus and His word. We need to stick with the basics while inviting others into the gospel and let God figure out the math. Good point. And yes, our elders are awesome! Jim, Scott, and Dennis, we are so thankful for you!

  5. Seth Massa permalink
    February 5, 2009 12:44 pm

    Usually because Sunday is my true Sabbath (finally a day off, and I just want to sit around). I still live in Bowling Green, KY, but I’ll try to come by. I haven’t gotten directions, but I’m guessing I can find those online can’t I. I’ll figure something out hopefully.
    It sounds like a church that just feels like home/family.

  6. josh permalink
    February 5, 2009 12:52 pm

    GREAT to hear from you, Seth! I think about the Men of the War Room at least weekly. If you come down, let me know so we can block off some time together. I know you’re busy, but I “feel led” to beg you to come down sometime (wink, wink)…

    Directions:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=%22100+Secluded+Lane,+Spring+Hill,+TN+37174%22&ie=UTF8&z=15&om=1&iwloc=addr

  7. Sue permalink
    February 5, 2009 1:06 pm

    I’m terrible at math equations – just ask Steve – but I think God will bless (and is blessing) The Bridge because we are doing the opposite of #1-5 (other than the cool pastor!). I often wonder why God moved our family to TN and it always comes back to The Bridge – so we can be involved with a church that “gets it”. February 13 cannot come soon enough so I can find out what God has revealed to Josh, the elders and leadership for 2009. I believe it’s going to be HUGE and that God will do “exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could ask or think”.

  8. Mary Bea permalink
    February 5, 2009 3:37 pm

    I agree with Sue…I can look back over the last 5 years since we’ve been in Spring Hill and know that God’s hand was in all of it…this was too far for Ken to drive to work, it was NOT where we thought we would be…but it is EXACTLY where God wanted us…and what’s cool to me about being involved in a church the “gets it” like Sue said is that I’ve learned what that means…I finally “get it!” Being a part of this family has been life-changing for me…

  9. Nathan Wandell permalink
    February 5, 2009 7:21 pm

    I have a really, really hard time imagining the Bridge without the Johnson’s or the Slack’s. So thankful that God has brought you guys here.

  10. Becky permalink
    February 7, 2009 2:19 am

    As we have shared with quite a few, we tried so hard to NOT come to the Bridge. We had just come from a church in Michigan where out of necessity we were a little busier than we wanted to be. We thought we needed a break and knew that a church-plant would have to equal a lot of work. Well, after about 3 weeks of attending elsewhere we thought we’d give it a shot. After all, we already kinda knew some of the people from church in KY. One Sunday was all it took. Jimmy and I both agreed that this is where the Lord wanted us. We still feel that way ~ very strongly. I would give up many, many things to be able to stay in Spring Hill and live life with you all for a very long time. Is it a lot of work like we thought? YES!! But isn’t it amazing how the Lord provides everything we need to get His work done?!?! I would encourage anyone who is thinking about becoming involved in one of our ministries to go ahead and take the plunge. In fact, I know of a teacher in the 4-K class who will be taking a break soon to have another baby and will need a replacement!! ;0)

  11. josh permalink
    February 7, 2009 11:13 am

    @Becky – lol. nice plug.

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