I want to spend a few blog bucks talking about Spring Meadows, where we are, where we’ve been. I’ve preached a long time but have never seen anywhere like this place. What makes it different? I’ve really struggled with how to explain it. And here is what I’ve come up with.
The Bible speaks of Caleb and it says: “Caleb had a different spirit” (Numbers 14:24). Not a criticism of others – I mean there was Moses and Joshua – who would slight them but Caleb was different. Not wrong, not weird, not practicing something far out, just different in his spirit. That is Spring Meadows. Take “Joe Average Church” and swap the “order of worship” (i.e. Design, placement of songs, prayers, number of songs, types of songs) with Spring Meadows and it will still be different. This church has gone from about 45 to 400 in roughly three years. There was a great dream and there is great energy, excitement and vision. But I must hasten to say not a one of us here takes credit for what has happened, lives are being touched and changed by the Lord, His Word and His people being His people.
I’ve been preaching for 30 years and have never seen anything like this. I’ve learned in the process some things that I’ve been told that are not true:
It’s not true…
1. The 80% rule – it has been so long ago that I first heard this that I’m not even sure when it was, but I think right around 1983. It goes like this, once a building is 80% full you won’t grow any more – all the best seats are gone and people who don’t want to sit close together are uncomfortable and will look for somewhere else to be. Well, our first little building would seat 101 people exactly and we would fill it with 101 people every week. Our second seats 275-300 comfortably – 80% would be 220-240, we’ve had 350 plus 7 of the last 8 weeks and Sunday we had 403 crammed in – standing room only – literally. Some have suggested if we weren’t building people would start leaving, they could be right, but there is nothing to prove that. I think the myth came from the fact that building infuses a degree of excitement and us preacher types will buy into anything to get something good happening. It’s like that idiot who said 10% of the population is homosexual, there’s nothing to back this one up.
2. You need one full time staff member for every 125 people – well that may be true but we are making it on one full time guy and a part time youth minister. We also have a part time secretary (both the youth guy and secretary are wonderful). We have no one in the building clocking in and keeping “office hours”. I am MORE available than I have ever been. If you want me, I can be found quickly and easily, just call my cell phone and I’ll meet you. I can be “in my office” in Louisiana, California or here in Spring Hill. Extra staff does not necessarily solve problems, in fact, it often creates them. I know I’ve seen this in many a church – power, ego and control get in the way and we get sidetracked from our mission. Now, I am not opposed to more staff, but often what “our churches” need is to rid the “hire it done” mentality and focus on getting every member serving (see 1 Corinthians 12:18). If there is no staff to blame it on maybe more would take responsibility for projects and if there was no staff to do it make more members would contribute their talents to making it happen.
3. You’ve got to change the church to grow – there’s an oldie but a goodie. I think I first heard it on a tape in 1980-81. The idea is that what we do is so stagnate and old that we’ve got to infuse it with some artificial or “new” thing to make any progress. This simply is not true. I see it time and again in churches with energy and enthusiasm that they grow and are vibrate and significant. I see it churches that work at being inviting and attractive and churches who focus on evangelism and outreach. We’re growing, people moving in, baptizing whole families, restoring people out of service for years, and, yes having some come from other congregations, all without a hint of what some would rail against and call “modernism”.
Yes, we do have some VERY stale congregations but what needs to be changed there is hearts, attitudes, and an understanding that we are worshipping the Lord! I am sympathetic with those who get so frustrated with the “staleness” but we don’t have to compromise to be significant, to reach out to our community, to talk to a friend or neighbor about Jesus, or to have vibrant, meaningful worship services full of life and energy.
It is not my intention here to boast or to try to tell others how to “do church” but just some observations from my perspective. Oh, yeah, there are more, but I figure I’ve ruffled enough feathers here.
I’m sure this will all elicit some responses – and I look forward to them – just remember, stay Christian in them and if you get out of hand, I will remove your comment.