Get Out of the Way

Kevin DeYoung says something I think we’ve all seen (or still do):

There are conservative churches who wear smallness as a badge of honor. Because they sense the real danger of measuring success by numerical growth, they think tiny churches are a sign of faithfulness and big churches are all sell-outs. Their pastors at times sound as though they’re channeling John Owen, and their engagement with culture consists in explaining how modern-day Armenians differ from theological Arminians. They talk in cadences of another century and specialize in preaching to the choir. There are churches out there that not only don’t grow, they are frankly proud that they don’t. The church in America can shrink until it shrivels and dies as far as they are concerned. They are interested in truth not results.

There is much I admire about this attitude. It is refreshingly nonfaddish and unconcerned about worldly success. But those who hold this attitude are often blind to the ways in which they make it unnecessarily hard for people to feel at home in their churches. They can be inflexible about the wrong things and unable to see how the unbeliever is not always entirely to blame for disliking the church. So, ‘Are we getting in the way of the gospel?’ is a worthwhile question to ask.

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (Chicago: Moody, 2011), 32-33.