J.D. Greear to Pastors: Don't Grow Churches, But Gospel Warriors

BALTIMORE, Md. – Summit Church Pastor J.D. Greear said Monday that U.S. churches are failing because their structure is oriented towards uplifting gifted pastors rather than cultivating disciple-making leaders among the body of Christ.

The American church model, the North Carolina pastor said, is all wrong. "We think of successful churches as those who have gathered large crowds to bask in the anointing of a talented man."

However, examining the scriptures, Greear said the power of the church lies in its members not a rockstar pastor in the pulpit.

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When Jesus told the disciples that he was leaving so that one more powerful than he would come, Greear said he was promising that "the work of the Spirit released through the multitude of ordinary believers would be greater than if Jesus himself stayed or if he anointed one mega leader or a handful of mega leaders, 12 mega leaders or even if that mega leader was Jesus himself."

Greear also noted that Jesus said that the one who is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist. He asked the audience at the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference, "How many of us think of our people that way – as each of them being greater in power and potential than John the Baptist."

Unfortunately, dismal statistics for the American Church suggest few pastors are tapping into their members' potential.

Greear described U.S. churches saying, "Many studies show that somewhere near 90 percent of active church-going evangelicals – we're not talking about the people who go to church all across the United States, [but] evangelicals – 90 percent have never even shared their faith with someone outside of their family. Only 20 percent of churches in the United States are growing, and only one percent of churches are growing by reaching lost people. That means of the churches that are celebrating their growth, if you just took the churches that are celebrating their growth, 95 percent of that growth merely shuffling existing Christians around."

Greear admonished pastors to become servant-like leaders who make the discipleship of their members the church's main goal.  He challenged pastors saying, "If John 16:7 is true, the role of the pastor is to raise up ordinary people as gospel warriors, [to evangelize people] not on the weekend, but Monday through Saturday."

The North Carolina pastor was one of eight speakers who spoke on the final day of the SBC's two-day Pastors' Conference. The conference's theme was "Show Us Your Glory."

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