From the article, If pressed about my church's growth strategy, I usually say it is to get smaller and die; to continually decrease the amount of time, resources and energy we spend trying to have the ultimate church experience, and to spend more time actually being faithful. Nowadays, faithfulness —not success— is our only metric. Success is about "doing." Faithfulness is about "being," and it's really hard to measure.
While many Lutheran churches spend themselves trying to
All you CGM fanatics out there, don’t even try to build a straw man out of this by suggesting that we’re promoting laziness or lovelessness. On the contrary, we are promoting zeal for the Gospel and tireless love for the neighbor. But this does not mean marketing or targeting or removing “obstacles.” It does not mean vision-casting or leader-building or church-changing. It doesn’t mean finding “new ways” to reach the lost. It means pastors preaching the Gospel just as it has been preached for nearly two millennia, and administering the Sacraments as they have been administered for just as long. It means laity gathering weekly to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness of sins and life in the Divine Service and then scattering into their vocations to lead pious, Christian lives of service to their neighbor. It means trusting the Holy Spirit to do whatever he wants to do through the preached Word, and not trying to change or enhance the results by means of our own machinations and innovations.
So, God save us from the successful church. Give us churches who shun sentimentality and pragmatism and aren't afraid to face the inevitable shrinkage which comes as a result of following Jesus. God save us from church leadership strategies. After all, it takes zero faith to follow a strategy, but incredible faith to pursue the kingdom of God and leave the rest in God's hands. If I've learned anything as a pastor, it is this: faithfulness flies in the face of sentimentality and pragmatism, and if you pursue it you have to expect small numbers.