But these are not what indicate "success" for our church.
In fact, some of these 'success indicators' can actually inhibit true success (as I'll explain in a moment). Don't get me wrong though- I'd like to see each of these things happening in our church. But it is possible to have all of these things and not be truly successful because these factors can often impress the world, but fail to impress the Lord.
In his book TOO SMALL TO IGNORE, Dr. Wess Stafford says that failure is doing things really well that don't actually matter. Success can therefore be defined as doing things well that really matter. For a church then, this surely must mean that true success is doing and being what Christ has commanded - without compromise. We can therefore define "success" for our church as-
Ephesians 4:1b-3 walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
When we recognise that God has called us together to be a church that pools our gifts, talents, treasure, and time - even though we may disagree at times - when we are committed to the same purpose (knowing and glorifying Christ and making Him and His glory known) and we serve passionately, sacrificially, worshipfully, in joint adoration of Christ, we are successful as a church.
When we are reading, studying, sharing, defending, being shaped, guided, informed and inspired by Scripture, we are successful as a church. Ignorance is our blight, Scripture is our salve.
Ephesians 4:18, 20 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart...But that is not the way you learned Christ!
When we care for each other in practical and spiritual ways, we are being a successful church. This is the essence of Romans 12:9-21. Care is not a job. Care is not a ministry. Care is what a successful church does for each other.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The Gospel was summed up perfectly by Dr. J.I. Packer who said- The message of the Gospel is: God saves sinners. Our Gospel is God-centred. Our Gospel says that salvation is the work of God through Christ. Our Gospel says that we are all sinners. Our Gospel says we cannot save ourselves. Our Gospel says we can be saved. Our Gospel infers that God loves us.
There is a "pop-Gospel" being preached that is Man-centred. This Gospel says that man can save himself by believing, repenting, and making a decision. This Gospel says that God meets man half-way. This is not our Gospel. We are a successful Gospel when we are committed to proclaiming the Gospel.
We are a successful church when we are a prayerful church. Prayer is not a ministry that requires a special calling. All Christians are pray-ers. Prayer is what was happening when the Church was birthed (Acts 1, 2). Prayer is what the Church of Acts did whenever they met (Acts 2:42-44). We are successful as a church when we pray in our services, in our lounge rooms, with our children, with our spouse, with our friends, and with our study group (Col. 4:2).
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
We are successful when we serve each other with the gifts that God has given us.
1Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
I believe that these are the "goals" that will make us a healthy and therefore a successful church. In many ways we already have the seeds of these goals growing in our church. These are the goals that we are watering and cultivating. I think that if we ever exchange these goals for lesser goals like numbers or budgets, we may well be successful in the eyes of some, but I'm not so sure that we will be that successful in the eyes of the Lord.
Thank you for being a part of our church and committed to helping our church become "successful".