The Perfect Recipe for Church Growth

1 stake
3-4 bundles of wood and sticks
2 sets of rope
1 can of gasoline
1 box of matches
1 or more Christians

Directions: Tie the Christian to the stake; pour the gasoline on the wood; light it with the matches; stand back. Repeat if necessary. Watch the Church grow.

Of course, I’m not suggesting anyone actually do this. God forbid! It is simply a way of pointing out that if you look throughout history, it is always when the Church is at rest, when it is comfortable, when it is fat and happy that it is at its weakest. When there is nothing at stake, when being a Christian is the “popular” thing to do, we forget how to confess the faith under duress. We forget that the Church does not grow by methods and programs but by blood. Martyr’s blood.

Peter Kreeft touches on this in chapter 5 of his book which I mentioned in a previous post. “Quoting” a “speech” by the Prince of Demons, Kreeft writes:

First, we learned to use the very success of the Enemy’s forces to bring about their failure. Once we stopped indulging our appetite for martyr’s blood and instead deliberately let the Church get big and fat and comfortable and successful, we found that its very strength became its weakness. We lost the first millenium because the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church, but we won the second millenium because the power of the princes was the dryrot of the Church (p. 63). 

The Church in the United States is not declining because it lacks programs and marketing schemes, but because it lacks martyrs (oh, and babies too). It lacks blood. Yes, yes, we suffer for our faith in some ways. Our pagan friends make fun of us when we are teenagers. But no one is going to burn you at the stake or put you in the Lion’s Arena if you say that God is your Creator, or that Jesus is your Lord. I’m not saying we should look for self-chosen forms of sacrifice. Persecution will come when it comes. But I am only reflecting on the fact that when there is little persecution, there is little zeal.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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