The “Come as You Are” Method of Church Growth
by Mike Johnson
Churches want to grow in number, but, sadly, many improper methods are used by churches today to increase their membership. One of these is the “Come as You Are” method.
This method of growth is prevalent today in denominationalism. Slogans such as “God loves you no matter what” or “We don’t judge your life” are usually associated with groups using this method of growth. The idea is, “You don’t have to make any changes in your life; you can continue in what you are doing; you can continue in your sin.” Thus, people can continue with adulterous marriages, living together with their “significant other,” social drinking, dishonest business practices, and foul language. Recently, an advertisement for a book started by quoting the author who explained, “God loves us rags and all.” According to the ad, God accepts us for what we are, not for what we do. Many adopt this attitude, and it can help achieve significant numbers for a congregation.
The “come as you are” philosophy is not taught in the Word of God. Instead, the Bible teaches God will not save people in their sins, and He requires a change of heart and life. At Corinth, for example, there was an immoral man in the congregation, and Paul told the Corinthians to withdraw from the individual, delivering him to Satan (I Corinthians 5, II Thessalonians 3:6,10). Paul also told the Corinthians that the unrighteous would not be able to inherit the kingdom of God. He said (I Corinthians 6:9-11), “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God” (NASB). Also, in Galatians 5:19-22, we are told that people who engage in the “works of the flesh;” practicing such sins as adultery, fornication, hatred, and drunkenness; will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Further, Ephesians 5:11 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” II Timothy 4:2 points out we are to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Why “reprove” and “rebuke” with our preaching if God accepts everyone the way they are?
Jesus died for all men (John 3:16, Romans 5:6-8), God loves us, and He wants salvation for everyone (II Pet. 3:9). First, however, we must repent (Acts 2:38, 17:30-31), which involves an attitude that will cause us to turn away from our sins. We cannot continue in our sins and still be pleasing to God. Thus, the fornicator, the liar, and the thief must stop their sins. The “come as you are” method of growth, practiced by so many, is not pleasing to God and is an improper method of growth.