What does it take for a church to grow?
- Some place a heavy emphasis on godly character that comes from prayer, as if that’s all it takes to grow a church. This camp loves the first part of Psalm 78:72, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart…”
- Others place a heavy emphasis on good leadership, as if that’s all it takes to grow a church. This camp loves the second part of Psalm 78:72, “…David shepherded them…with skillful hands.”
But anytime a teaching implies that 1) all it takes is prayer or that 2) all it takes is good leadership, that’s what we call “The Fallacy of the Excluded Middle.” This particular fallacy involves a situation in which only two options are considered, when in fact there’s another option not being discussed. Let me illustrate:
- To place an emphasis on the importance of prayer in growing a church, you can make learning about leadership sound worldly and unspiritual. One such example of this is when Eugene Peterson (who has written book after book on prayer and not one book on leadership) writes, “The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.” But this excludes a middle option – an option that involves a pastor who values both prayer and good leadership.
- To place an emphasis on the importance of good leadership in growing a church, you can fail to mention anything about the importance of prayer. One such example of this is when John Maxwell writes “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” But this excludes a middle option – an option that involves a pastor who values both leadership and prayer.
The undiscerning listener, hearing the importance of prayer and not wanting to be worldly and unspiritual, will get sucked in and turn his/her back on leadership books and conferences. The undiscerning listener, hearing the importance of good leadership, will get sucked in and forget about prayer.
But let’s look at the two parts of Psalm 78:72 together. “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart and with skillful hands.” Integrity of heart stands for character and skillful hands stands for competency. The pastor of a growing church will value and develop both his character and his competency. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. When it comes to growing a church, character and competency are not enemies – they are best friends. Jesus told Peter (whose name means rock) “…on this rock I will build my church…” You see, Jesus builds his church but he does so through people…people with both character and competency.