The Finish Line:
Have you ever watched the start of a marathon? Whether it is the New York, the Boston, or the LA Marathon, there are thousands of people packed into the start of the race. However, at the finish line, the numbers dwindle drastically.
How do you make sure that you finish well? How will you make sure that you are a leader who lasts? How do you make sure that your ministry lasts?
I visited Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch last Sunday and heard a powerful message from Pastor Dudley Rutherford. He commented that Shepherd is the 28th largest in the United States and this year they are the third fastest growing church in the nation. That is something worth celebrating!
What is most fascinating to know is that Shepherd Church was birthed years ago by First Baptist Church of Van Nuys, one of the original mega-churches. In 1969, there was a famous book written called The Ten Largest Sunday Schools in America and First Baptist Church Van Nuys was on that list.
But First Baptist Church of Van Nuys no longer exists today. I don’t pretend to know all that happened that caused it to close its doors, but it happened, it didn’t make it to the finish line in the marathon of life.
Run to Win:
Paul admonished us in 1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV), “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
Many ministries begin with a bang, exploding with new growth, but after the initial growth, they plateau, sputter and die. It doesn’t have to happen.
What causes some churches to endure, while others struggle?
The law of the Lid
No ministry can grow beyond it’s leadership. As the leaders go, so goes the ministry. If there is an ever expanding team of healthy leaders, then there will be a healthy, expanding ministry.
Developing leaders is what discipleship is all about. It is the way that we see the fruit “remain.” We are not called to be fruit pickers, but fruit “bearers.”
John 15:8–11 (ESV) By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
I want to finish well, by investing in the next generation of leaders, who are well equipped to build enduring churches where the fruit remains.
There are two things that will last forever, people and the Word of God. So I plan to invest in these!
How about you? What do you think?