What makes a church successful? What yardstick can we put next to ourselves to see if we are really a success or not? Godís answers are very different from manís answers.
MANíS MEASURE: HOW MANY PEOPLE ATTEND YOUR CHURCH?
This question is asked all the time at ministersí meetings, but I donít even like to answer it Ė and I never ask it. Man has already proved that you can compromise on moral issues, be lax on church discipline, quench the Holy Spirit and water down the messages, and you can draw a big crowd. A cult in this general area once got 50 people by its third week or so Ė by teaching the ridiculous error that God would never send anyone to hell because He loves everyone too much to do that. If numbers make your church successful, that psuedochurch was successful. As Iíve said before, comparing using numbers is absurd because that megachurch pastor would not have a megachurch if he were transplanted to our sparsely populated area.
GODíS MEASURE: HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GETTING BORN AGAIN AND GROWING INTO HEALTHY, REPRODUCING DISCIPLES BECAUSE OF YOUR CHURCH?
This is a major ďouchĒ for most churches! Yet who can argue that the Great Commission is our prime directive as believers? If weíre not getting Job #1 done, we canít possibly be seen as a success in heavenís perspective. God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Hell is forever -- everyone who does not receive Jesus will burn forever in the lake of fire. What have we done about that individually and corporately? Can we be at ease while thousands around us are headed for a Christless, loveless, joyless, hopeless eternity of constant conscious torment?
MANíS MEASURE: DO YOU HAVE A NICE FACILITY THAT RIVALS THE TAJ MAHAL IN ELEGANCE?
GODíS MEASURE: TO WHAT DEGREE IS THE HOLY SPIRIT ALLOWED AND EXPECTED TO MOVE IN THE SERVICE AND CHANGE LIVES?
The anointing destroys yokes and removes burdens. Fancy buildings, while nice, cannot do either Ė at best they could be a place where these things happen. If what we do does not produce positive changes in peopleís lives, weíre wasting time and money.
MANíS MEASURE: DO YOU HAVE PLENTY OF MONEY IN THE CHURCH BANK ACCOUNT?
GODíS MEASURE: HAVE YOU GIVEN AWAY PLENTY OF MONEY TO FACILITATE WORLD EVANGELISM?
MANíS MEASURE: ARE PEOPLE HAPPY WHEN THEY LEAVE YOUR CHURCH AFTER THE SERVICE?
GODíS MEASURE: TO WHAT EXTENT HAS THE COMMUNITY BEEN CHANGED BY THE EXISTENCE OF YOUR CHURCH?
Is the town changed, or are we just a curiosity to people Ė if they even know we exist? Do you realize that in past moves of God in various parts of the world, they had to cancel sporting events due to lack of interest because everyone was so busy having prayer meetings, Bible studies, etc., because they were so hungry for God? Do you know that in revivals Charles Finney conducted in the 1800ís, entire TOWNS of people gave their lives to Jesus, bars closed, and policemen had nothing to do because there was no longer any crime? Do you think that God has forgotten how to bring that about since then? Is it only in the book of Acts that whole cities can suddenly turn to the Lord? We need to face the reality that the American church is in rough shape, with widespread apathy toward God and the things of God. Iím not content with that Ė are you? It should move us to prayer. Theyíve documented cities around the world that have been transformed as a whole by the gospel, but not a single one of them is in America. Itís about time it happened here, now. But the first step toward that is to realize how far short we are have fallen using Godís measures of success so that we see our need to pray about it and do something about it. We canít solve a problem until we first acknowledge that we have one.