More than Numbers?

By Darrel Rowland

Jim Putman readily agrees that a lengthy ministry is no guarantee of spiritual success. “Just because you’re in a place a long time doesn’t mean it’s going to be effective. You’re going to have to be the right kind of leader in a long-term ministry.”

Jim Putman

But that right kind of leader can be more effective over the long haul, he says.

“I think the largest churches in the United States are led by people who’ve been there for a period of time and figured out how to make an impact, and how to grow people spiritually and become more a movement rather than personality-driven thing.”

It’s that how to grow people spiritually part that is Putman’s passion, and he says it applies to churches with short- or long-term ministers.

He has led Real Life Ministries in northern Idaho from four families in 1998 to more than 20,000 for Easter last year at the original location in Post Falls plus six church plants.

“I don’t care if you have a big church or not, the question is what’s happening in that big church?” he said. “Just put on the best show in town, you’ll have the most people. So what? Are you making disciples who can make disciples? Are you helping these people spiritually grow up?

“The weekend show was not Jesus’ methodology for making disciples. We want to take the teachings of Jesus but divorce them from the methods of Jesus, and we want the same results as Jesus.”

Instead, Jesus took time to develop relationships, teach, and “do life” with his disciples.

“He didn’t just preach sermons and hope they got it,” Putman said. “We’re trying to preach great sermons and put on great shows, and then we wonder why we don’t have a biblical worldview, why our people are spiritually immature, why people aren’t coming to know Jesus Christ, and why the church is in decline.”

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