I have an experience common to many of you.
Raising teenagers, specifically teenage boys, comes with a series of predictable issues and outcomes.
There will be emergency room visits.
There will be “shenanigans.”
There will be drama.
I guess you don’t even have to be a raiser of teenage boys to know this is true; you just need to be near them, those jokers can eat!
Depending upon what cycle of the growth spurt there in, I cannot tell you which will be higher on any given month, my utility bill or my grocery bill.
A few weeks ago my boys came in from some outdoor summer frolicking. Before they got into the kitchen, I heard from their brotherly conversation that they were “starving.”
Mom had laid out a spread, and I had grilled up brats, dogs, and burgers. It was a teenager summer food dream come true.
As they walked into the room, they both eyed the kitchen table, and I felt a little fear for my life recognizing that I stood between them and the bounty that lay before them.
Mom told them to grab a plate and asked if they wanted a hamburger or a hotdog.
In unison, they both said, “Yes!”
I love that answer because it’s one of my favorite responses… Not either/or, but both/and.
They didn’t want one; they wanted one of each.
I think the church needs to get a good dose of both/and.
We argue about which is right or best and often it’s both.
It’s either traditional or contemporary… what if both were appropriate?
It’s either seeker sensitive or hardline fundamental… what if both had a place?
It’s either Baptist or nothing… well, let’s not get crazy.
Last week I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of Dr. Claude Thomas. The former pastor of First Baptist Euless, Euless, Tx and now president of C3 Global.
He made an incredible statement that is probably the most important both/and I have heard in a while.
He said, “We (the church) need to grow spiritually, that’s true, but if we do not grow numerically we will eventually become irrelevant.”
True words, life-giving direction, and hard to reproduce.
I think there has long been a belief that we don’t need to be effective as a church as long as we’re faithful. That perspective has lead us down a road where we say that we may not be growing numerically, but we are growing spiritually.
I wonder, has this become an excuse?
Have we traded in the difficult work of the objective growth of the church numerically as we point to a subjective growth that we want to believe is there?
The truth is, healthy things (spiritual growth) will naturally grow (numerical growth).
And, didn’t Jesus himself say you will know a tree by its fruit? Fruit is also called produce… because it is something that is produced.
I’m not arguing for numerical growth over spiritual growth. And, I’m not asking for spiritual growth to be dominant over numerical growth.
In fact, you may ask, “Andy, which one do you want spiritual growth or numerical growth?”
And my answer would be, “Yes!”
The truly healthy church and the truly healthy believer is growing spiritually, and the evidence of that is a fruitfulness in which the believer reproduces, multiplies and adds to the Kingdom.
Honestly, numerical growth is evidence of spiritual growth. And spiritual growth is the predecessor to numerical growth.
It is a both/and.
So step up to the table, the church is famished, and the world is in need. When you’re thinking about the direction of you, your leadership and your church, and that little voice inside your spirit asks which do I pursue… spiritual growth or numerical growth?
The answer is difficult and easy… it’s a both/and.
The answer is yes.
Originally published in the Baptist Digest, Oct 2016