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Monday, August 13, 2007 5 comments

How do you define success? Obviously it depends on a specified area. For your career, is it a dollar figure, something you like, or something that is above a certain level of stature? This is more difficult to say for a church or a believer. What is a successful church? Do you measure success by growth by numbers, individual growth, or works?

I don’t think you can measure success by growth in numbers alone. To measure success of a church, it is necessary to know the purpose of the church. I believe the purpose of the church is to (1) Glorify God (Ephesians 3:21), (2) Build itself up in faith by instruction of the word and using spiritual gifts (2 Timothy 2:2,15), (3) Fellowship and keeping the ordinances (1 John 1:3; Acts 2:41-42), (4) To spread the gospel (Mathew 28:19).

I think success is measured with a combination of these. Most churches will emphasize one of these as more important. Usually it is evangelizing. They are so consumed by growth in numbers that they don’t build the congregation up. On the other hand, the church does have to grow. I prefer not to measure by numbers because other means other than the word of God can be the reason for attendance.

As for the individual, these same principles apply. A believer is to glorify God, study the word, use their spiritual gifts, fellowship and evangelize. Now if a believer measures their success by how many people accepted Christ when they witness it might not be that good. Does that mean that they are unsuccessful or presenting it wrong? Absolutely not. I found out three years after witnessing to someone who was an atheist that they now have accepted Christ. Results are not always immediate. I think the humanistic version of success has flooded over to the Christians’ view.

5 comments: to “ Success so far...

  • Timm August 13, 2007 at 12:17 PM

    Good post.

    You know my stance on this topic. Evangelism is a wing of the church, but not the main focus of the church.

    The Pastor is a shepard of the flock. The shepards job is not to lure more sheep into his flock. It is to take care of the sheep that are already there. It is to make sure they are fed and that none of them wonder away.

    However, it goes both ways. Some churches have neglected evangelism all together. I am not condoning this in any way shape or form.

  • Layneh August 13, 2007 at 4:41 PM

    I think it is important to note a few things on this topic.

    While the congregation you call the "sheep" and the pastor the "shepherd" I will only agree partially to this. See within every person there are spiritual gifts, and you must define yourself with those gifts.

    Also, a pastor is not always a shepherd. He is also a sheep. Christ is our one true shepherd, and we must recognize that pastors can make mistakes. Too many people put pastors on too high a pedestal.

    Then there is the regular attending Christian. They are a sheep, but their responsibilities are high as well. They are to be shepherds to the non-Christian community, and to struggling Christians.

    Sorry for the long breath, I must now answer the question from the blog.

    Acts 17:24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands."

    The church is just a building, a gathering place.

    1 Corinthians 3:16& 17 "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple."

    You shouldn't measure a church, as you are measuring the people who attend it. And as the Bible will tell you, we are not the judge, that is not our task.

  • Timm August 14, 2007 at 9:22 AM

    I'm Sorry Layne. Please please please don't get upset. I have no idea what you just said. I am not desputing any of the points you just made. I'm fairly certain Craig is not desputing any of the points you just made.

    "Pastor” is from Latin, translating the original Greek word poimen. The familiar Anglo-Saxon word “shepherd” also translates this word. The root meaning of the word is “one who tends, or feeds the flock."
    Yes he is also "a sheep." but he is the shepherd of a flock within the flock.

    "The church is just a building, a gathering place."

    Craig, perhaps you should rephrase the question to read, "how do you measure the success of a congregation."

  • Craig August 14, 2007 at 11:11 AM

    I agree. I meant the local church, not church as the body of Christ. It was not a judgement of churches, but rather an evaluation of their priortities. It falls more along the lines of church government.

    The second part of the question was a self evaluation. The Bible teaches receiving rewards. This post was to address the misinterpretation of success.

  • Melissa August 15, 2007 at 6:24 PM

    I believe that we each are commanded by God to reach out to those who do not know Him. As Craig stated, we may not always see results right away. There are many stages planting seeds, watering, weeding and blooming. God uses us to touch others...He already knows if they are going to accept or reject, but we don't. That is why it is the duty of every Christian to tell others about Him. To do that effectively we the congregation have to be nurished. If we are not fed then how can we reach others. It is an ongoing process and as we are in His word we become more familiar with how to live our lives to glorify God. I believe that we do have to have all that Craig mentioned and we do have to take it a step further than just Sunday. That is why bible studies and mid-week services and other social events are essential to the nurishment of the body of Christ.

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