Growing up is messy.
It’s messy because we don’t learn all of life’s lessons in a book; we learn them through experience – the hard way. We trip and fall. We stain our clothes. We hurt feelings. We get our feelings hurt.
I have a ton of stories as anecdotal evidence; you have them, too.
Here’s the thing: the church is full of messy people who are still growing up, so it makes sense that the church is growing up as well. We’re not a perfect church, and that’s OK. But we want to be a growing church, right? Not just in numbers.
We want to grow in depth…
to grow in trusting God with every area of our lives
to grow in relational health
to grow in confidence as we use our gifts to serve God and each other.
The Apostle Paul said that every follower of Jesus has been given a special grace – a Spirit-empowered gift. And when the people of the church use their gifts to minister to one another, everyone grows! (Ephesians 4:1-16)
And here’s why it’s so important for the church to grow: because the church is the hope of the world.
You might be thinking, “Jesus is the hope of the world!” Yes, but the church is God’s chosen instrument to spread the news of Jesus to the world. So in this way, the church is the hope of the world.
I got this idea from Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. In his book, Courageous Leadership, he writes:
“I know that what governments do is very important. Writing legislation for the good of society is a noble, worthy task. Public service is an honorable vocation. But politicians, no matter how sincere their motivation, can only do so much…
They can’t change a human heart. They can’t heal a wounded soul. They can’t turn hatred into love. They can’t bring about repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace…
Wise educators can teach useful knowledge of the world. Self-help programs can offer effective methods of behavior modification. Advanced psychological techniques can aid self-understanding. And all of this is good. But can any of it truly transform the human heart?
I believe that only one power exists on this sorry planet that can do that. It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time. And what grips my heart every day is the knowledge that the radical message of that transforming love has been given to the church” (Hybels, 21, emphasis mine).
Did you hear that? The message of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ has been given to us. I know that feels big. And if you’re like me, you don’t always feel like you’re up to that task. But that’s the beauty of the gospel! You’re not! At least not in your own strength! You’re still growing up in your faith. And as you grow, the church grows, too!
Jesus said he is building his church and the gates of hell will not be able to overcome it (Matthew 16:18)!
So step out the door today knowing that you are part of something big. You’re growing into your role. Keep saying yes when God gives you opportunities to serve him. Keep your eyes open. He will guide you.
You carry the hope of the world today! And it will not be stopped!