Are we praying to Grow? (February 2016)

It’s a simple question. Do we really want Springfield Friends Meeting to grow? If the answer is yes, what are we doing about it?

From the very first phone call I received almost a year ago, I was told that people in the meeting are eager to grow. When I talked with the search committee, they said the same thing. When my wife and I came to see the meeting in person, when we visited with small groups and committees, you all said the same thing – “We want to grow!”

Since we arrived last fall, growth has been very much on my mind. Each week, I’ve tried to work on something directly related to growth – making our web site more attractive, for example, or improving the look of our newsletter, or clearing away stuff nobody wants any more so our building will be attractive and uncluttered.

All these things are essential – think of them as getting ready to plant a field or a garden. The soil has to be broken up and made ready, before the seed can be planted. Rocks need to be put to the side of the field. The soil may need to be tested, and nutrients added. We still have a lot more of this preparatory work to do here at Springfield Friends.

I’ve read a lot of books over the years about how churches grow. Even more important, I’ve been part of Friends meetings which have experienced tremendous growth, both in numbers and spiritual depth, witness and ministry. It’s exciting!

One of the missing ingredients churches often neglect is praying for growth. The truth is, we can have beautiful facilities, a spiffy web site, a busy calendar and lots of other things – but we need to ask God to help us grow.

Here’s a secret: praying to grow isn’t the same as being anxious. In fact, anxiety is toxic to growth! Growth doesn’t happen because we’re anxious about our membership or our finances, but because we truly want a people gathered here who are hungry and thirsty for God. Growth happens when people find joy, faith, hope, and love, and when the feel that God is very near to them.

We need everyone in the meeting to pray for growth. Every Sunday at worship. Every time a Sunday School class meets. Every time we have a meal together. Every time we hold a business meeting. Every time we hold a Bible study. And as you’ve heard me say many times, praying isn’t just the pastor’s job – it’s everyone’s job!

Prayers for growth don’t have to be complicated. They can be short and simple. Here are some examples:

• “Lord, please help us grow.”
• “Please help us to open our hearts and minds to new people, and love them.”
• “Please help us to move things which get in the way.”
• “Please help us to reach out.”
• “Please help us to share your love.”

Prayers like these need to be part of the fabric of our meeting, because growth isn’t an afterthought – it needs to be on the front burner! I believe that steady, persistent, focused prayer is one of the most important things we need to do. Are we praying to grow?

– Josh Brown

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