I Stopped Praying for Visitors
For three years I've had the privilege of serving as pastor of Grace Baptist Church. I've observed in my time as pastor that the number one way churches (and pastors) measure success is: Numbers (attendance). When I talk with other preachers I know, one of the first questions asked is, "How many people are in your church?" I'm guilty myself of keeping an eye on the attendance board in the back of our church! From the pulpit I see the lines which read "Attendance Last Sunday" and "Attendance this Sunday". I can tell if the numbers grow or shrink from week to week, and, yes, it can be discouraging, but should this be the only measure for success? Should we even measure success by numbers? And, what is success anyway?
Recently I've stopped praying for visitors. Now, some will read this and say "What pastor would do such a thing?" Here's where I need you to understand my motive. See, every week brings us new visitors. This past Sunday we had two. Before that it was one new visitor, we've even had eight visitors in one Sunday! But, I'm not praying for visitors any longer. Why? Because our church, and every church for that matter, doesn't need visitors, it needs members! I'll go one further, our churches don't just need members, they need sold out members! Members who are saved by the grace of God and not ashamed of it! Members who are willing to serve in the church! Members who have a love for God and a desire to see His will carried out in our church and in our community! Members who are "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: (Romans 1:16). Members who are willing to become laborers in the Lord's Harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).
I'm not praying for visitors anymore, I'm praying for committed people who are looking, not for a church to visit, but for a church to call home. This takes time. The process is slow, but one thing I've learned from serving in the ministry, God's timing is always the best timing! Here's a challenge for those of you reading this, whether you're a member of our church or church like yours, will you join me in praying for God to send to our churches those who are ready and willing to serve in God's harvest!