Over the last several weeks I have rejoiced to see the great number of people we have had come to know Christ and I have been excited about the number of people who have come for membership into our fellowship. This year our average attendance is up, our giving is up, and we are getting staff into place! All of this is extremely exciting - however none of the aforementioned things are growth indicators. I mean we serve a God who saves as He wills, not based on how well, or poorly I preach, or how inspiring our services can be. We serve a God who said He will grow His Church. As I stated, what I will be accountable for on that Great Day as your Pastor is how faithful I have been in feeding you the Word of God. I told you that I would worry about the depth of our growth and allow Christ to worry about the breadth of growth in His Church. However, there is one thing that can serve as in indicator of the growth in our church and in our lives - the great hunger to read. A couple of Sunday’s ago I preached a sermon on “Parenting” and recommended a few books - before everyone had left for home, those books were sold out. Because we live in a church culture that tries to sound spiritual by saying things like: “I just read the Bible,” or you have another group that will not read and think at the same time so anything that comes across their eyes they take it as the gospel. Both of those are way off base. I think you know me better than to assume that your Pastor is someone who would recommend that you choose other books over the Bible, but we must be people who are readers and thinkers…and amazingly many times these two go hand in hand! I love the quote by the Prince of Preachers - Charles Spurgeon:
As the apostle says to Timothy, so also he says to every-one, ‘Give yourself to reading.’ ... He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own... You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works….”
I just want to encourage you to continue to read, but be discerning in your reading. I once had a friend that read a lot but never considered the doctrine of what he was reading…and is confused to this day, easily swayed by whatever popular movement comes along. Use the Pastor’s Picks at our book table for your benefit. These books are not there because our church makes money on them or because we are in partnership with any publisher – they are simply there because I want you to be careful what you pick up to read…and these are solid authors and books of great value! Remember our conversation about The Shack and other such heretical reading? This table, this ministry is there to keep us focused on what is quality reading and to guard us from picking up what is at best, trash and at worst, dangerous books. Take some time and thank Mrs. Dody for her faithfulness in keeping track of those books and making sure we can give them to you at such a discounted price. Thank her for taking her ministry to the Lord so seriously - she is always there, always smiling, and always more than helpful. In the coming days we will be bringing in new books, so read what you have and then get more! Turn off the TV and read! In doing this, you will not only be better equipped, but you will be blessed and enabled to bless others! Readers, thinkers, believers—now isn’t that a novel way to grow a church????