Paying the Price

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).
Jerry Vines has written that “Many people in America today … are building crowds but are not willing to pay the price to build a church.”
It’s not that hard to build a crowd. We can simply ensure that we have the “best show” in town. My personal preference is to have James Earl Jones’ deeply resonant voice to preach and Julie Andrew’s incomparable voice to sing.
The difference between building a crowd and building a church lies in the difference between detachment and discipleship, negotiation and repentance, objection and obedience. Building a church takes time; building a crowd, simply bribery. Building a church takes a commitment to principle; building a crowd a commitment to being popular. Building a crowd means pleasing the community; building a church means pleasing God.
Don’t misunderstand. I want the church to grow. I simply want to ensure that it is the church that is growing, not just a crowd. Telling the community that it “pays to be a Christian” builds crowds. Telling them to “deny” themselves, “take up their cross” and “follow” Jesus builds churches.
I want the church to grow, but not at any cost. Not at the cost of declaring God’s holy requirements for his people. Not at the cost of discipleship. If you feel the effort is too costly, remember this: someone already paid the price to purchase the church.
“You are not your own. You were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20).

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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