Francis Grimke’s Meditations on Preaching was one of the many books given away at Together for the Gospel that I came returned home with. For the last couple of months, it has occupied a place on my desk from whence I grab it once a week or so to read a couple pages before beginning to write out my sermon notes. While all of the book has been encouraging, the particular section that I am sharing below resonated with me deeply. With so many churches supplementing activity and busyness for true, deep, long-term discipleship, Grimke’s thought is certainly worth considering:
The true mission of a church in the community where it is located is to preach the Gospel, with the double purpose, first, of winning men to an acceptance of Jesus Christ, and, second, of building them up in faith and holiness. In other words, its value to the community will be in proportion as it is helping to make its members, after they are brought in, better men and women, better Christians, getting them, in character and life, more conformed to the character and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its value to the community does not depend upon the size of its membership but upon the quality of the men and women that make up its membership. It is through the individual members, in their personal character and life, in their contact with others, that it is to do its most effective work. I have very little sympathy with the craze that is now taking hold of so many churches: merely to increase in numbers. Numbers count for nothing unless the constituent elements are of the right character. It is quality not quantity that tells in the work of the Lord.
The main business of the church, therefore, is not only to win men to Christ, but particularly to make them such in spirit, in temper, in life, as to make them powers for good, centers of life-giving and ennobling influences. The church lacks power, because so few, or comparatively few, in it are of the right stamp. It needs to bend its efforts towards making more of its members of the right stamp. The basis of all outward expansion must be first inward.P. 25