Quantity isn’t important—discipleship is.
There was a city and there was a mountain. The Jews worshiped at the city.
The Samaritans worshiped on the mountain. Jesus met a certain woman by the well of Jacob, between the mountain and the city. She was a Samaritan. She recognized Jesus as a prophet and asked which was the right place to worship— at the place of her ancestors or of his. Jesus told her that the time was coming when true worshipers would worship neither in Jerusalem nor on the mountain, but would worship the Father “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
That time is now.
I don’t like it when people ask at which church you worship. To me it shows that they don’t know what it is to be a true worshiper. Jesus is not just concerned about ordinary Christians or the church-goers—he wants disciples.
I went to a pastors’ meeting last week and everyone there was very concerned with church growth. I am not so concerned about great numbers. I think it is high time for us to focus on the concept of discipleship. That is our greatest commission.
Wanting to have great numbers in our churches can sometimes bring us the spirit of pride and fame, as well as greediness—a focus on tithing and money—and hunger for power. I like what the apostle Paul said in Acts 20:33-35: “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
True worshipers worship God in spirit and in truth. My prayer is that God must trust us with great numbers in our churches after he has searched our hearts and found that we are hungry for souls, not money.Steve Mthethiseni Ntapo is pastor of Harvest Time Ministries in Mandela Park, Mthatha, South Africa. Mission workers Anna and Joe Sawatzky are among his congregants. This column was excerpted from a sermon he preached July 25 and first appeared on www.anisa.org.za, the website for the South African Anabaptist Network.