NASHVILLE. Most pastors, church planters, and campus missionaries are in the ministry because they want to obey God, serve people, and change the world. Sure, some have messed up motives, but most have pure hearts. And most want to grow in terms of ministering the Gospel to more and more people.
Despite honorable motives, the desire to grow and actual measurable growth are not the same. To borrow a word from the prophet Isaiah, many in ministry feel “barren.”
Notice what Isaiah said to the barren.
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1)
After going to the conference, listening to the podcast, reading the book, attempting what the mega-church celebrity suggested, and not seeing results, we usually feel like quitting and complaining, not singing.
Besides singing, Isaiah had clear instruction for those who are being ignored by Outreach Magazine’s fastest growing church list.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. (Isaiah 54:2)
If you have not experienced the level of fruitfulness you desire, try singing and doing the rest of what Isaiah said:
1. ENLARGE YOUR VISION (“Enlarge the place of your tent”)
Think bigger. Dream bigger. Enlarge your place. Consider getting a bigger facility, or at least maximizing the one you have.
2. STRETCH YOUR FAITH (“let the curtains… be stretched”)
Isaiah did not tell them to replace the curtains. Their curtains were OK, they just need to be stretched a bit. Stretching is not comfortable, but is is essential for growth.
3. LENGTHEN YOUR REACH (“lengthen your cords”)
OK, you are reaching your campus, your city, your country, but what about the next campus, the next city, and the next nation? When and where is your next campus outreach? When and where is your next church plant? Who is your next campus missionary? Who is your next church planter?
4. STRENGTHEN YOUR FOUNDATION (“and strengthen your stakes”)
More growth requires more strength. Greater outreach demands greater depth. In a building, the deeper and stronger the foundation, the taller the building. Same in ministry. Deeper and stronger spiritual foundations support greater growth.
Q: Why do we need to enlarge, stretch, lengthen, and strengthen?
A: Because God plans for us to “spread abroad to the right and to the left” and for our next generation to “possess the nations.” (Isaiah 54:3)
If you desire growth, whether you feel barren or fruitful, I suggest you get busy enlarging, stretching, lengthening, and strengthening. God will do the rest.