Mike Goldsworthy is one of my heroes. He quietly and unassumingly leads an incredible movement of church planting in Long Beach. His recent blog follows and it’s worth reading – enjoy!
Your Goal and By-Product Matter
Every once in a while, I get sucked into an episode of Biggest Loser. And while the stories of individual transformation are inspiring, there’s another aspect of it that I find intriguing. When I’ve seen it, I noticed that they never make the weight-loss the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is always something bigger, something more significant, like seeing your kids grow-up or completing a marathon. And of course, as they work towards living in a way where they would see their kids grow up or where they could complete a marathon, they end up with weight loss, but the weight loss is a by-product, not the goal. In fact, most people now realize that if things like weight loss aren’t connected to a bigger goal, they’ll never see longevity. You can’t make weight loss the goal…it’s got to be the by-product.
In the same way, it seems that we have mixed up the goal and the by-product in our churches. The church growth era taught us that if we focused on growing our individual churches that the by-product we would see would be Kingdom growth. The reasoning makes enough sense – get more people in your churches and as a result, more people will be in the Kingdom.
Unfortunately, we now know that hasn’t been the case. In the past 20 years, we’ve seen the number of Americans who identify themselves as church goers decrease from 49% of the population to 40% of the population, while also watching those who self-identify themselves as unchurched, rise from 24% of the population to 37%. But at the same time, we’ve become incredibly good at growing our churches. In the past 6 years, we’ve watched the megachurch population in the US double to more than 1,200 megachurches currently.
While we’ve gotten incredibly good at growing our churches, at the same time, the Kingdom in the US has not grown…in fact, it’s shrunk. It seems that we’ve gotten the goal and the by-product wrong.
This weekend, we announced at Parkcrest United, that Parkcrest is going to be a part of a collaborative movement of churches in the Long Beach area to launch 50 new churches over the next 5 years in our own backyard. For us, this is a part of trying to change our goal and our by-product. If we invest in making our goal to see the Kingdom expand, a natural by-product will be that we’ll see our church grow.
It’s a subtle, but important shift in what we focus on, where we put our energy and how we define success. But it’s more biblical. Whenever you find in the book of Acts a declaration that the church has grown or that more were added to their number, it’s always about the greater church as a whole, not any one individual church in a specific location. That is always that growth that the book of Acts celebrated.
Maybe it’s time we start redefining what our goal and what our by-products should be.
You can follow Mike at http://mikegoldsworthy.com/wordpress