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The encouragement of slow church growth

Don't you love it when you read something in a book that agrees with what you already think?! I've been going on recently about how we've got the worst of both worlds in telling people about Jesus:
  • Culturally, people are miles from the gospel. When we read about John Paton preaching to cannibals, we realised society around is quite a lot like them!
  • But they don't want to hear the good news of Jesus, because they think they already know what it is.
I've been reading a book by Steve Timmis, called 'Multiplying Churches'. He puts it much better:
"... church planting is a long-term initiative, and that ought to be written into the contract. On a human level, this is particularly so when trying to plant amongst those who have no interest whatsoever in organised religion. In my experience, it can take anything up to three years of building a relationship with such people before there is a willingness to even listen to an explanation of the gospel. From then it can take up to two years before there is a readiness to respond, primarily because they are so ignorant of what the Bible teaches, and therefore of what the gospel actually us.
"While this ignorance may seem to echo to situation the early church found itself in as it expanded into Gentile territory, it is in fact rather different. Today the ignorance is compounded by prejudice. Then Christianity was something new. Today it is 'old hat'. People think they know what it is, and have already decided they want nothing to do with it. It's almost as though having been raised in a country with a Christian heritage they have been inoculated against the 'disease'..." (p.123)
How is this encouraging to us? Well, it's someone else saying it: slowness in normal, and to be expected. Don't panic: out of love for people and trust in God, keep doing what we're doing - with patience.