In a meeting recently a young regional leader late into the evening stated “growth internal is eternal.” In spite of the late nature of the meeting and all that had gone on as regional and local leaders shared and spoke this one specific phrase really spoke to my heart.
Often as leaders we focus on the growth that you can see immediately. The numbers in attendance, the growth in the budget and the income of the ministry or the local church, the number of baptisms of new believers. It can be a numbers game if we let it become that. However, there is a growth factor that is hard to see and even harder to measure. This is the internal growth of character and maturity inside the believer. This growth is not temporary and worldly like so many other things that we can and do measure. This growth is inner growth of character and purity as we become more and more like Jesus. The Bible calls this sanctification. This growth is eternal and seriously important in the life of every believer.
As a leader I work hard at constructing and building teaching that are godly and challenging for those who are disciples of Jesus. My goal is not to give them more information or knowledge of the Bible. I am not out to be entertaining – however, I do want to be interesting. My goal is to release the life of God Himself inside the heart of the believer. This life of God (Zoe) is life-changing and will transform the person from the inside out. This life will bring about permanent changes in a person’s character, motives, desires, dreams, and perspective. These inner changes are eternal. They will go into heaven with the believer.
However, these changes are also very powerful in the life we are called to live here before we exit and head to Heaven. These changes on the inside will always lead to external changes. And because of these changes in the way we think and speak, our attitude and the way in which we view and live life – we are then a witness for Jesus among those who do not yet know Him. These inner changes will lead to more effective outreach and bring about a powerful testimony of the life-changing power of the risen Jesus Christ.
So, although most churches and believers measure the success of a church by the budget, buildings, and number of bodies in attendance … God sees success in terms of changed lives. And, lives change from the inside out and never from the outside in. Making resolutions and setting goals never bring about permanent and lasting change. But, the transforming power of the eternal Word of God which is “spirit and life” (John 6:63) brings about permanent inner changes of the heart and mind which then effect the lifestyle, values, and perspective of the believer bringing about permanent and important changes on the outside. These changes are the foundation upon which we can then build effective outreach influencing people and impacting a community for Jesus.
This life of God (Zoe) on the inside because of the Word of God bring taught and received – this “life” is the light of men. John 1:4 states that “…in Him with life and life was the light of men.” The very life of God inside Jesus was the light that drew people to Jesus and the Kingdom way of life. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14 “…you are the light of the world.” This tells me that the very “life” of God in us through receiving and applying God’s Word which is “spirit and life” is a light to my world and will draw those whom I relate to to Jesus and and the Kingdom. Inner changes through God’s Word bring eternal changes that releases His life that touches others. Growth internal is eternal bringing about powerful outreach.