Through the years, the church has had to endure persecution, neglect, corruption and apathy, but yet she endures.
The church has displayed the best and the worst of humanity. She has both stunning victories and miserable failures on her record. Yet, she endures.
When I am tempted to be overwhelmed by the problems in the church, I need to remind myself that it is not up to men to build the church. Jesus told us that he, himself, is the one who builds his church (Matthew 16:18).
We can be co-laborers with him, but he is the architect and builder.
This is good news! It is good news because it takes the pressure off of us as church leaders.
Certainly we need to be diligent in presenting the truth of Scripture to those who come under our care. We need to be diligent in reaching out to those in our community who don't yet have a relationship with Christ. We need to be diligent in equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians. 4:12).
But we must always keep in mind that it is only God who change change hearts and bring people into relationship with himself. It is only God who can cause spiritual growth. God is the only one who builds his church.
One analogy that Jesus used is that of a laborer in a harvest which can be seen in John 4:35. The farmer can plant, water and remove weeds, but he cannot cause the crop to grow. The farmer cannot cause the growth.
In the same way, church leaders cannot cause anyone to grow spiritually. We cannot save anyone. We can only be faithful in promoting conditions that are beneficial to spiritual growth.
We will be judged on how diligently we worked to promote the conditions under which growth happens. We will be judged on how faithfully we worked at the tasks that God calls us to perform.
We will not be judged on the results. The results are in God's hands.
Ultimately, we can't mess it up. God will build his church with or without us.
Mark McIntyre is a husband, father of 3 girls, a chemical salesman, and part-time home maintenance man. He undertook formal Bible Training at Talbot School of Theology and LeTourneau College (now University). Find him online at http://www.mhmcintyre.us/