Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Great Church?

What makes a great church? I still hear members, but mostly church leaders, talk about how great it would be to be a church of one or two thousand. They say it as if the size validates our success as a church family. Okay, let's say that all of a sudden we became a church of two thousand. What would that really say about us? Would it reflect on our ability to share Jesus or our ability to attract others who like our church better than others? Would it mean that we were doing everything right, like God wants, and that we have been true to our commission and purpose? Would it allow us to help people develop a deeper relationship with Jesus? Would it really glorify God or stroke our egos?
I'm all for growing in numbers as a church. Our present church family has been at a plateau for several years. I guess to some that means we've haven't been growing, but it's only a plateau if no one has been growing in Christ. It's only a plateau if it's assumed God wants us to be something different than we are now. We are a church family with over five hundred on the rolls, we have the largest number of elders of any church I've been a part of (and the other three were larger), and I'd say that we still are not guiding our members to maturity in Christ as well as we could. Would we do a better job if we had another fifteen hundred members? It's hard to see the logic in that. There is a part of me, mostly my ego, that would love to be the pulpit minister of a huge, thriving church, that everyone else envied and wanted to copy, but is that really what God called me to do and be?
We have more visitors and community contacts then we can keep up with. We have visitors who walk in to check us out every Sunday! We have a large number of members who are very serious and honest about wanting to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus. Still, someone will occasionally talk like we have failed to become a great church. It's just so hard to keeps the worlds definition of church success from driving our perspective on what we should do. We must learn to celebrate the maturity of one soul in Christ. That is the job of spiritual leaders, at least according to Paul in Ephesians 4:11-16. Our job is to build a great church, but in God's eyes, a great church is a loving, spiritually mature family that the world recognizes as followers of Jesus because of how much they love each other. not the church with the slickest program in town. Those house churches of Acts 2:42-47 were great churches. Not because they were a group of thousands when the all got together, but because they understood difference between caring relationships and community attractiveness. Just maybe - a great church is a family of disciples who are interested in seeing every member of the family draw closer to Jesus. Just maybe - if we do that with what we have, God will give us more to help grow.

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