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Are You an Aquarium-Keeping Leader?

People ask me all the time how we’ve been able to see so many people come to Christ in five years.

Outside of the favor of God, I could give you a lot of specifics. Tell you a lot of things that we’ve done. But none of it will help you until you make a decision we made in the early days of our church.

And that was the decision to be more focused on the people we’re trying to reach than on the people we’re trying to keep. As others have said, to be fishers of men, not just keepers of the aquarium.

We’re not going to cater to the personal preferences of the few in our pursuit of the salvation of the many.

And that includes if the few is 10 people when we’re pursuing one hundred.
Or 5,000 when we’re pursuing 10,000.
Or 10,000 when we’re pursuing 20,000.

Most people and churches aren’t willing to do that. They’re keepers of the aquarium. They say they want to reach people, but in reality, they’re more focused on preservation than expansion. On keeping people rather than reaching them.

They let saved people dictate style. Saved people dictate focus. Saved people dictate vision.

The result is a room full of saved people. Not people getting saved. Why? Because the people you’re trying to reach aren’t interested in the church that has been created by the people you’re trying to keep. If they were, they’d be coming. But they’re not.

For some reason, right here is where people usually play the discipleship card. They’re trying to disciple the people they’re trying to keep. They accuse you of pitting evangelism against discipleship.

But that isn’t the case. I just believe true disciples should care more about making disciples than freeze-framing the church the way it was when they became one. Or wanting 26 programs customized to their liking. If the mark of Christian maturity is a bunch of people who want to create a museum glorifying and preserving their personal preferences and then sanctify it by calling it a church, count me out.

Some people say why can’t we have both? You can. Focus on the people you want to reach, and you’ll keep the people you want to keep. Let the rest walk. They’ll find a church elsewhere to graze.

The way I see it is they’re just occupying the space of a person who needs to hear the gospel. You’ll fill their seat.

And it will be with the person who needs it the most.