Pay the bills, balance the budget, maintain the membership… this is the life of the local church. Recently God has been working on me helping me realize that life is so much greater than filling a seat. He has helped me see that the aim of the church is far greater than maintaining numbers year to year.
The last month I have lived with a large amount of discontentment in my heart. I believe this discontentment is a good thing in that it is leading me to see a vision of the church far above complacency. As an example, this morning I woke up with a singular question in my head… what is a successful church? Adding to it, when do you declare victory in your vision? Is success found when we grow to be 200, 400, 10,000 people strong? Is success the contentment of every member of the church, building it in such a way that everyone likes me? Is success simply surviving while the other 85% of churches die?
Here is what I have come to: success cannot be quantified on a board. There are many mega churches that allow people to sit status quo, never dealing with the membership’s heart. I have also realized that success in ministry means that some people will just be upset. A harsh reality that I have found is that I am no greater than Jesus. If Christ, the son of God, was despised by men, if his message was a stumbling block to many, then who am I to think that I can wrap it up so it will be pleasing to all. A true sign that success is happening is that people react to you like they would react to Jesus. I have also realized that success cannot happen in complacency.
What is success? Success is men and women coming in the doors of the church and leaving changed by God’s word. Success is fellowship that exists to spur one another along in the Christian walk. Success is a church that sees its highest goal in glorifying God. The fruit of a successful church is believers who are heavenly minded and broken hearted over their friends who do not know Christ. The fruit of it is families led by Dads whose hearts see their chief goal as making disciples at home. Success in church is simply a body of believers who live to be changed by God.