Judging a Churches Success.
How do we judge whether or not a church is successful in the Gospel?
Is it by numbers, is it by the amount of people that attend the church services or is it in the life of the church?
It may be a very busy church with loads of activities but what is the main central aim of the church, is it just to build a big congregation, to collect lots of money?
What do I mean by asking these questions?
Well, for instance, we may have 100 regular attendees at the church service on a Sunday morning and we may have 50 attending the evening service. We may have regular well attended mid week meetings
The question is, how many of these people are real possessing Christians, true born again believers in Jesus Christ and how many are professing Christians?
There is a difference in cultural Christianity and the true church, those that claim to be Christians and those are really Christians.
How many of the congregation attend simply because it is the accepted thing to do. Maybe they have been brought up in the church environment and do not know any different. It is a habit.
Maybe they come along because their partner, or their mother or father attend. Maybe it is to appear religious. There could be many reasons.
Do all these attendees have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, or are they just “doing religion”?
The first thing that needs to be right in a church to even begin to judge success, is whether or not the true Gospel of Jesus is preached both from the pulpit and in the mid week meetings. Is the Gospel being preached outside of the building by the people attending the church?
Is the Word of God the central theme that permeates the fellowship?
Without the true Gospel, there can be no real success.
To extend the Body of Christ, the real church of Christ, there must be real growth and that does not mean attendees at a building. What it means is people coming to faith in Jesus Christ and showing that faith, by producing the fruit of the Spirit. A successful church is a growing church in discipleship.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples”. He did not say make converts.
So, it seems clear that success cannot be judged on numbers.
A church that has 10 born again dedicated Christians, (disciples of Christ) is more of a success than a church of 100 cultural Christians.
Let’s look at numbers.
A church puts on a campaign of trying to expand church attendance, they put on a healing campaign or a Gospel show. They invite a charismatic personality to preach. They present a seeker friendly setup.
This organized event brings in loads of unbelievers and loads of people from surrounding churches.
During the event they get people making “decisions for Christ”. The week after the congregation swells.
Is this a sign of success?
Well, not necessarily so. First of all, how many of the ones making a decision to follow Christ are in fact real converts? Only time will tell.
How many of the new attendees are from other churches, recruited by the way the campaign was conducted and what they experience whilst at the meeting?
Can winning Christians from other churches be counted as success?
Let’s take another scenario.
One of the things that is happening in churches today is Ecumenancy, Churches coming together in so called unity.
We must unify is the call, all professing Christians must come together and show a united front.
unity: /ˈjuːnɪti/Submit. the state of being united or joined as a whole.
synonyms: union, unification, integration, amalgamation; coalition, federation, confederation
However, when people unite they combine or come together in agreement so as to form a single unit with singleness of mind and purpose. Whatever is decided is taken in consideration of all who are in this particular unit.
Sadly, what this means to some who are calling for unity, is put your differences to one side and compromise your beliefs.
The scripture that is used for this is John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
They say that if the world is to accept God, we must all become one.
However, there is a question to be answered here. One in what?
One with churches that teach heresy, churches that preach a different Gospel, churches that present a different Jesus. Is this what this scripture means?
Can a genuine born again believer in the Gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone be in unity with churches that deny this very fact.
Can true Christians be in unity with the Roman Catholic church that teaches salvation by infant baptism or the keeping of sacraments, that teach the heretical doctrine of purgatory or the selling of indulgencies, praying to the dead, the worship of Mary as a co mediatrix with Christ and teaching Universal salvation.
Can true Christians be in unity with Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the deity of Jesus Christ and believe that you can earn your salvation through works of the flesh.
Can true Christians be in unity with Mormons that believe that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer and that salvation only comes through baptism into the Mormon priesthood.
Can a True Christian be in unity with Islam, Bhuddism, Seikism, Hindu or any other religion that denies that Jesus is the Christ.
This verse cannot be taken out of its context to promote unity.
Let’s look at the context.
John 17: 20 – 22: I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message,
21 That all of them maybe one, as You Father are in Me and I in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one—…
This is what is being said in 2 Cor 6:14 - 16 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?
15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
16 What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”…
Most Christians believe that these verses are only talking about
marriage of believer and an unbeliever. It is speaking about truth and error.
There can be no unity at the expense of truth.
We already have the unity of the Spirit when we believe and are born again of the Holy Spirit.
Rom. 6:5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
If we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection, we are also united together as the body of Christ.
1 Cor. 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
It is true that we must also make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through peace among the brethren.
This means to keep or maintain that which we already have in Christ. That is the belief in Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. His deity, His death and resurrection and the belief that one day He will return to judge the quick and the dead.
Eph. 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
But there is also a “unity of the Faith” that we as Christians must strive for in order for us to be in the Faith, and not in heresy. If we wander away from the truth, we wander away from the unity of the Faith.
There are many types of “wandering” explained in the Bible. There is a wandering from the Faith through greed.
1 Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
There is also a “wandering” from the Faith by believing in false teaching.
2 Tim. 2:17-18 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some
1 Tim. 6:20-21 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.
Those who are leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ have a God-given responsibility to bring the flock into unity with the core doctrines of the Faith. If they are not doing that, but instead allowing winds of doctrine into the church, not only will it not create unity but will cause disunity in the Faith.
In the Bible these people are called “heretics” or the “divisive ones”. We are exhorted to reject men who cause disunity of the Faith over false doctrines after one or two admonitions.
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
This is because if these people are left to operate freely in the body of Christ, it can cause the faith of many to be weakened and even destroyed.
This is what we are seeing happening in evangelical Christianity today with the telly evangelists and in churches worldwide with the Emergent church. These are those that say the church must change to fit the times.
This is all a result of Christians either not understanding the concept of “unity of the Faith” or ignoring it.
To most Christians today, the word “unity” has taken on a new meaning, having a New Age connotation.
Everything can be solved by “tolerance” and compromise.
Is this what unity is?
There is a move today to try to unify all religions. The world Council of Churches. The Inter faith movement. Evangelicals are joining with Roman Catholics, Roman Catholics are joining with Islam, Bhuddists, Hindu’s and Sikhs. These are pagan religions, this is spiritual adultery.
Just like Israel did long ago, playing the harlot with foreign gods.
Today there is a push, both in the world and in the churches, to come to global unity. The UN is at the forefront of trying to unite the world by bringing in a Global World Government, a Global World Financial System and a Global One World Church. (United Religions Initiative).
There is the movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation, false apostles who are also pushing for a “global church”.
True unity of the Faith can only be put into practice by understanding what the Bible is teaching, in context, and living that out in real life.
Sadly, what is happening in churches today is the watering down of the Word of God, diluting the truth to make it more palatable.
We must not preach about sin and repentance, judgement or hell, this will scare people off. The church must become seeker sensitive and seeker friendly. Find out what people want and give it to them.
We must promote a Loving God, a god that does not punish sin.
This gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this is a man made gospel that may attract numbers but will not promote true growth in the Body of Christ.
What Paul was telling the Ephesians was that “doctrine” is the most important thing. What you believe is the most important thing about you, because if you believe in the wrong thing you are believing in vain.
Countless numbers of people who profess to be Christians today are believing in another gospel, a different Jesus, a different Spirit, a different Gospel.
These Christians replace “doctrine” in favour of experience. (Experiential Christianity), based on feelings.
Needless to say “If your doctrine is not correct, your experience will not be correct either.”
So it does matter what we believe. We cannot compromise our faith for the sake of unity.
When true believers come together in unity of the Spirit, they will
always be working toward unity of the Faith. Anything that detracts from the pursuit of unity of the Faith is not a good thing.
So, what is success?
Success in the Gospel is holding fast to that which we know to be true.
2 Thess 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
“Thy Word is Truth”. John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Preaching and teaching the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, seeing people come to a true knowledge and a personal relationship with God through Christ.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is the way to be a successful Church, If we do this we are successful.
In the early church we are told:
Act 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Act 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.