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Monday, May 23, 2011

Rustler Article for 5.26.11

How do you measure growth? Most things in life can be measured numerically, such as the height of a child, the profit of an investment, or the membership of a church. But how do you measure spiritual growth? Is there a yardstick or scale that can really show how a church family has “grown?”

This week I spoke with a trusted friend about the way his former church looked for a new pastor. Instead of taking resumes and considering things like education and experience, the litmus test for a candidate was to be only the rate at which he had baptized new believers. While this statistic is indeed easily measured, it hardly gives a report of a minister’s success or a church’s growth.

Take, for instance, the work of our Children’s Minister, Lesley. Over the last five years we’ve baptized several of the children who have been under her care and leadership, but even this handful of baptisms is small compared to the numbers of children who attend our programs during the week. Should we call such a ministry a failure? Should we have demanded more baptisms from among so many children?

Certainly not. It is foolish to think that the work of any minister can be measured by the number of baptisms she performs. Such an evaluation ignores the growth of understanding and formation that the children of our community have undergone through Lesley’s faithful leadership. Our children have learned the Scriptures, they’ve learned the vocabulary of faith, and most importantly they’ve learned that they, too, can know and serve God.

The foundation that has been laid through Lesley’s service is going to make other ministers look really good one day. These children will grow in faith and knowledge until the day that Jesus Christ calls them in an unmistakable way and they are baptized in ours or some other church. They will be counted among the statistics of ministers who measure and are measured by the quantity of those who profess faith in Christ and are baptized. Heaven will rejoice.

But somewhere miles away there will be a woman quietly serving her Lord, teaching the Word and loving the children of her church with the love of Jesus. She’ll have no tally of immersions in her mind; only the peaceful knowledge that she knows what real growth looks like.

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