Tim Stevens reports that their congregation saw 942 people make professions of faith last year. He’s on staff at Granger Community Church, a United Methodist congregation in northern Indiana. In an earlier post he said their average attendance for the year was 5660. I’m excited to see them be so fruitful. But it raises a question: Can we do the same?
Sure, they’re in a bigger area than we are. We don’t even have 5660 people in our town. We’d have to have 20 services a week just to get that many people in. So no, it’s obviously impossible.
But let’s not dismiss it so quickly. We UM pastors are not only required to go to seminary, but we’re also supposed to acquire a college degree first. When one goes to college, one takes at least one math class. If we apply a little math to the problem, we can see how the ratio would look for our church. (Actually this is Algebra 1 math from 8th or 9th grade – you don’t have to go to college to do this.)
942/5660 = x/203 where 942 is the number of professions of faith at Granger, and we divide that by their average attendance. If we wanted to have a proportionate number of professions of faith – x stands for our number, we simply divide it by our average attendance and they’ll be equal.
Doing the math we get 191226=5660x.
Then we divide both sides by 5660, giving us 33.785…. (a bunch more digits, but you get the idea). So let’s round the number since whole people make professions of faith.
If we’re going to win a proportionate number to Christ as did Granger Community Church we’d see 34 people make professions of faith this year. Surely that sounds more managable, doesn’t it? Surely there are 34 pre-Christians wandering the streets of Camp County.
But let’s ask another troublesome question. How big a change will it require for us to win only 34 people? Let’s do a little more math.
We had 3 professions of faith in 2006. Let’s think really big and aim for a 100% increase. How many people would we win to Christ if we had a 100% increase over last year? 6. Oops. 100% change sounds pretty significant (and for the folks who come to Christ it is really significant). But we’re no where close to 34. So what percent increase will we need to get from 3 to 34? I won’t show the math this time, but it’s 1133%. Or in plainer English – over a thousand percent increase.
Man! How do you do that?
The simplest answer? We don’t. There’s no way it’s going to happen. Unless God steps in, that is. You see, this kind of change is akin to what we see on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It’s a radical discontinuity. There’s no natural way it’ll happen. When it happens, it’ll be God.
So how might God do it? Here are some ideas:
God is currently at work in the lives of the people around us, drawing them to himself.
God is is waiting to give us the kind of love for people that he exhibited when he gave hs only Son for us.
When we get that kind of love, the resulting passion will do two things. First, it will drive us to our knees in prayer. Second, we’ll invest ourselves (and not just our nickels & dimes, our little moments here and there) in the lives of the people around us. Three, we’ll let God make us into the kind of church we need to be to handle 34 new babies (baby Christians).
Do you want it? I do.
Fantastic post! Challenging and lofty, yet firmly grounded.
I wonder about your use of the term babies to describe people new to the faith. Might that be taken in such a way as to be a bit insulting?
Richard – your post was very challenging to me. Thanks for your example. I blogged about it here: http://www.leadingsmart.com/leadingsmart/2007/01/your_choice_be_.html
You have my prayer that God will step in and do wonderful miraculous things with your community and congregation.