Al Barth admits that most of the church planting work they are involved in is much smaller and slower. Many of their church plants, even in NYC are more like 80-180 people, after 5 years. Nevertheless, we still must stretch and aim higher and more boldly, resisting the urge to pessimism and resignation.
Here's my question. What does it means to 'aim high and more boldly'?
I've heard some high and bold dreams. A couple of keen church planters I know of have spoken of their aims to have 100 people at the end of year one, 200 at end of year two... But how helpful is this? When you've been so vocally bold about what's going to happen, how do you cope with it when things don't go your way? When after 12 months you've got very little to show for your efforts? Despair? Depression? Anger?
It's God who gives the growth. There is a point where growth projections are presumptuous - telling God what he is going to do. He may give your congregation growth, he may not. You may do everything right - plant good quality seed and water diligently - but God may withhold growth. Or he may give growth to someone you think doesn't deserve it. That's his choice.
I care about the gospel going out. But I fear for a generation of church planters who in their zeal for the gospel may have unrealistic expectations. Ministry is long and hard and exposes all our weaknesses.
So how do we aim 'higher and boldly, resisting the urge to pessimism and resignation' while keeping our feet on the ground and our pride in check? How do we trust that God will build his church (like he's said he will) while remembering that he hasn't promised to build it in my patch or through me?