Is your church successful? What kinds of things are going on in your church that make you think that it’s being successful? We’ll take a look at what can appear to look like a successful church as well as what success in the church should look like.
Let’s look at some things that people might confuse as success for churches.
1) Large congregation: A lot of people would think that if so many people are coming to the church, they must be doing something right, right? And that very well could be, but oftentimes we need to look at the congregation, itself as well. What do people come there for? Do they come to receive the Word and share it with others? Or do they come because of the presentation of it? Or perhaps to go through the motions and fulfill the weekend routine of going? It’s important to present opportunities of fellowship and ministry to get your congregation involved with each other and, as James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers alone.”
2) Large, state-of-the-art facilities: While having a big church is nice so you can minister to larger crowds, it’s important to make sure that people are there to celebrate the Lord and not just to awe at the decorations. Some churches focus so much on their building and making it extravagant, that it loses the point of why they were ever there in the first place. If you have it on your heart to make changes and upgrades to your church, make sure that the way you present those changes doesn’t distract or take away from the message of the Gospel and the effectiveness of your church’s ministry. There are some churches who grow and prosper and continue in strong fellowship and discipleship, and others that could be big empty shells by the end of it.
When it comes down to it, it’s not about the church building or the amount of people or money the church has. While that’s all well and good, Jesus is infinitely more so. So here are some ways to REALLY measure success.
1) Standing firm in the faith of the gospel: This is the most integral part of being a church. No matter what, never compromise the gospel on any accounts. Stand firm in your belief in Christ and knowing that ONLY through Him, you have incredible faith, hope, and love. God recognizes the heart of His church much better than anyone else and He will not abandon those who love and believe in Him, no matter what.
2) Unity within the church: Sure, maybe not everyone is going to agree with each other on every decision in your church meetings. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not united. The body of Christ has to keep progressing forward together in the mission of saving souls and spreading the news of God’s Grace. Individual church bodies have to work together to effectively minister Christ to the lost and needy. Some people will actually leave a church, just because they changed the interior paint color! Those who get upset about the color of the curtains in the church or the use of electric instruments need to search their hearts and realize their arguments don’t come from biblical understanding, but their own man-made traditions of what a church should be like. To coin a familiar phrase, ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church!
3) Actively ministering to the community: A pastor once said, “What good is a church if it can’t be a blessing to its community?” Any time you volunteer or assist without looking for compensation, don’t do it for man’s appreciation but for the glory of God and let it be known that’s why you do it. Looking at the book of James again, it says in 2:15-17: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” God has placed it on our hearts to love and care for others, as we would wish to be cared for. Let your faith and unity in Christ grow to action as a church body (or even a bible study group) that reaches out to love those who need us and minister to those who need Jesus, which is everyone.
A church’s success is not defined by a building or a location. It is defined by whether or not Christ is reflected in the activities the members choose to do, the truth in their words, and the love in their hearts for God and for others.