Jesus Christ was no church-growth guru. His methods were impractical, and his marketing was ineffective.
He did not just invite people to be church-goers; he called them to be cross-bearers. He was looking for faithful followers, not fair-weather fans. (9:23)
He did not sell his church to anyone for their sake; he called everyone to sell out to the cross for his sake. (9:25)
He offered no super-exciting programs; he simply pointed to little children and told big people “the least among you all is the greatest.” (9:47-48)
He didn’t have a permanent location; his church was mobile, and his followers met whenever they could, wherever they could — in fields, on beaches, in the mountains; in homes, at synagogues, in temple courts. (9:58)
He offered no guarantees of a comfy-cozy middle-class life free from tension and troubles; he guaranteed a cross-shaped life full of trials and tribulations and triumph in the end. (9:60, 62)
Christ Jesus was no church-growth guru. His methods were impractical, and his marketing was ineffective.
And yet, here we are — bearing the cross, boasting in Christ, being his church — 21 centuries on.
(Reflections on Luke 9:23-26, 47-48, 57-62)