Is our church a “successful” church? That is a good question for every congregation to ask. Of course we also want to ask what do we mean by “successful” and in whose eyes are we successful? It’s relatively easy to look at a company to see if they are successful. If they are adding more employees, needing more trucks and building more buildings then we say they are a success. Or consider our professional or collegiate ball teams. That’s even easier to see if they are a success: are they winning more games than they are losing? But the church is different. This article will express three aspects that determine whether a church is successful or not. It must be understood that if the world looks at our church and calls us a success but God would not then we gain nothing. If, on the other hand, God calls us a success then no matter what anyone else says, a success we are.
- The first measure of success is — are you teaching what you set out to do? For example, if you are teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, are you preaching and teaching it? What is the good news? It’s very simple! Jesus came to us from heaven, was born a baby, lived a sinless life and paid for sins by dying on the cross. His sacrifice was accepted by God the Father as evidenced by the resurrection which we celebrate on Easter Sunday. This is the heart and soul of who Christians are. If we stand courageously and faithfully on this then we are the lights on the city hills. Let John 3:16 always be our banner “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
- The second measure of a successful church is — How do they take care of one another? “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16) God expects us to look after one another and to do good to each other. We may sense the absence of a smile from a friend, inquire of it and help carry their burden. It’s always wonderful, isn’t it, when someone comes to help us carry the heavy weights the world places upon us. Remember that good feeling and right thing and bless someone by doing it for them. Share from our abundance. You may share your wealth, but also share your wisdom, your jokes, your smiles, your hugs, and, if you are a guy, share your tree stand or fishing boat. The apostle Paul tell us “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)Interestingly enough, when you start to help others, you find you are actually helping yourself. How so? You are learning from other people’s experience, saving yourself from having to go through the same pain and/or suffering. You are developing friendships (so if you ever need to talk to someone, someone is willing to listen because you listened to them). And you learn what is truly valuable in life. While of course ‘things’ like nice cars, beautiful watches and so forth are important and have their place, relationships with others helps make a life more fulfilling. After all — can you imagine having a fancy corvette — but no one to show it off to? What would be the fun in that???
- The third measure of a successful church is how they take care of what God has given them. Take care of your facilities. Does the sanctuary need a fresh coat of paint? Has the leak from the roof been fixed so that along with the prevention of water damage, drops of water aren’t landing on people during church? Is the parking lot properly lit so people are safe in the evenings? Change dead light bulbs and check the fire extinguishers to be sure they are ready. Consider giving the church kitchen some needed updating. A good way to scare off parents with young children is to have a playground with outdated, worn equipment so spend some money and bring it up to date. If there are any “green thumbs” in the church put their talents to work by addressing the landscape and flower beds. We need to take care of what God has entrusted to us. Ask a friend to come and “inspect” the church, fresh eyes see what ours will miss.How you treat your ‘house’ is an indication of how much respect you have for someone. For example, if you had the president come visit your home — you would make sure you had your ‘Sunday best’ out, wouldn’t you? Well, you shouldn’t reserve your Sunday best just for ‘important’ people. You should look, act and talk your best all the time. When people see that you respect them, they in turn will naturally respect you.
Above are a few elements of how you can determine whether your church is ‘successful’. And, if its not quite there yet, then you know what you need to do!