How well does your church measure up?
Are we building church as Jesus wants us to? Stuart Blount asks some tough questions in an article written before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Success is a journey, not a destination.” This was the way Zig Ziglar, the American author and motivational speaker, suggested we define success. I think there is merit in this observation for church leaders in the 21st century.
The pressure to be successful is one thing, but when nobody can agree on what that success should look like, it becomes more difficult. For many, it can be about the numbers. How many people attend church on a Sunday? Or, how many people are involved in meaningful service in the church?
For others who feel uncomfortable with the numbers game, it’s about ‘depth’, about the quality, not the quantity.
I have lived at both ends of this spectrum during my life as a church leader. As an inexperienced 24-year old I took on the challenge of leading a small church after only a couple of years as an assistant pastor of a larger, thriving church. The 40 or so people I found on my arrival were so loving and understanding of my very green leadership skills – but I had high expectations of the journey this church was to go on.
Four years later when I left that church for another, larger opportunity, the numbers were pretty much the same – but I wasn’t. I had experienced the frustration of trying very hard to stir vision and enthusiasm without understanding that my own learning curve was of much greater benefit than I imagined.
Fast forward a few years and I was leading a church that was growing fast and I really didn’t know why. It would have been easy to talk about the tremendous efforts we were all making to build a strong and healthy church – but, to be honest, I could have also pointed out the things that kept me awake at night!
I also found that as the church was growing it was much easier for me not to. The sheer momentum of a congregation riding the crest of the wave made it easier for my own spiritual life to drift.
If success is measured only in the statistics, we fail to understand that the Church of Jesus is called to become so much more than a gathering place for people, whatever their theological persuasion or stylistic passion.
It is that thought that exercised me to consider what might be the way in which we as church leaders should examine the wellbeing, strength and effectiveness of the communities we lead.
Whilst corporations are measured by the profits they make, the Church is measured by how we fulfil the mandate of Jesus on the earth. We know that the Church has a long way to go in our modern Western world, but if success is a journey then we need to be sure we are headed in the right direction.
As leaders, we have to resist at times the ways that others measure value in order to ask the most important question of all: “Am I building what Jesus began to build?”
Seven signs of a healthy church
How successful is your church? Some principles to look for include:
A diverse community living in harmony with each other and God’s heart for his world.
A people with a commitment to live in purity and portraying the character of Christ.
A home that welcomes all those who enter the doors as if they were already family.
An army that recognises who the real enemy is and stands together to defeat his strategies.
A body that serves with a joy that cannot be quenched and humility that cannot be faked.
A temple that is built on a foundation of authentic worship and a partnership of intercession with the Spirit.
A family with a passionate commitment to the mission of God, sharing the good news of Jesus in word and deed.
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