Pure Heart for Evangelism or Pure Greed to Increase Church Membership?


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Two impetus can drive us to do things in ministry—compassion or greed. If you’re a denominational pastor, you’re likely to be spurred on by greed. You are trained by your denomination to get as many people into your church as possible to up your church membership—because more membership means more church income.

And more income means more churches put up everywhere—to get more money from more people. And so on.

But there are those who share the Gospel out of pure compassion. They do it exactly as Jesus did it—with utter urgency but never in desperation. Jesus never pursued after people. He had compassion on them all but maintained the Kingdom policy that says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Desperation pursues after people, grabbing them by hook or by crook. It says, “Anyone who has ears to hear, let him hear. And if anyone cannot hear, we’ll make ’em.”

Jesus shared the Gospel and left people to decide on their own. He never followed them up or visited to invite them to his church next Sunday. Some who pursued him he discipled. Others, he sent home. Can you imagine that? Do you have Christ’s heart like that?

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” [Mark 5.18-19]

Others he discouraged from following him.

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” [Mathew 8]

Jesus’ evangelism was without greed. He maintained a small group of disciples and followers (there were 120 when he ascended to heaven) although he shared the Gospel with everyone. He didn’t get all the people into his church because he believed in the Kingdom principle about the sower and reaper teamwork.

I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor. [John 4.38]

Others sow, others reap. And the radical thing is, some reap what they have not worked for (and which others have). And yet, they’re all happy together doing it.

…so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

Today, when people that a certain church denomination has shared the Gospel with end up in another church denomination, the first denomination will be far from being “glad together” with the second denomination. In fact, they will consider it a loss. If the sower and reaper are not glad together, it’s NOT God’s work. It’s work of the flesh.

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Do you get that Kingdom principle? You’re not supposed to grab it all for yourself to build a mega church for your name. You share the Gospel with all people as much as possible, and wait for God to give you those you would disciple. People God meant for you will come to you. You don’t have to pursue after them desperately, following them up and pestering them with your visits or forcing or coercing them. Jesus never did that.

All those the Father gives me will come to me, [John 6.37]

This passage is even clearer:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, [John 6.44]

The Father draws people to you. That’s how the glorious church of Jesus Christ works. Those who aren’t drawn to you are meant for another church or pastor. You sowed the seed but others got the harvest. You should be glad.

If you have a pure heart for evangelism, your main concern is for lost souls, NOT how many would be added to your membership.

A lot of churches are merely the result of greed, not the Father’s work. They grabbed what wasn’t intended for them. Sure enough, they became big. But are Christians there really new creations in Christ (the old is past, the new has come)? Or are they a mix of the old and new?

How often do I see evangelical churches of different denominations all lined up in the same street or area, competing with each other and grabbing people from each other. They behave like they’re not working for the same “Company” but are rivals. They’re not in the same Body. And look at their results (look what character people there have).

Do not work for food that spoils, [John 6.27]

Pastors are mostly pressured to perform well by increasing membership each year, and these poor pastors obey so they can submit a good report to their denominations at the end of the year and earn their approval. It’s not compassion for lost souls but a challenge to beat the membership quota. Church has become like a franchise.

To others, it’s all a game or a popularity contest to see who’s a better pastor or leader. They love to get more people and set up more churches everywhere to make a name for themselves. And then they think their acquired numbers (membership and income) make them superior over other pastors. They’re drowning in the money-value system of the world.

The glorious church of Jesus Christ won’t be like that. The Word says, it’s without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. To be sure, you won’t find any trace of greed there, or any vainglory. This church is done purely by God’s Way—exactly as Jesus did his ministry, because He is the only Way. Only he deserves God’s approval [John 6.27] so we have to do everything His way.

In the end, all churches (regardless of how big they are) end up problematic, worldly and even counter-flowing what God is doing because they have been built by greed and vainglory. They are inspired by only one thing—more for themselves. And that’s also what drives their evangelism.