One of the issues that all pastors struggle with is gauging the effectiveness of the church they serve. One of the reasons pastors even care about this issue is because for a pastor, the effectiveness of his church is directly related to the effectiveness of his ministry. After all, pastors like to know that they aren’t just spinning their wheels. They like to know that their lives are counting for something; that they are making a difference. I believe that the vast majority of evangelical pastors desperately want their church to be spiritually effective, to be spiritually health. That is what they give their lives for (obviously in the context of giving their lives in service to Christ).
So what are the things that indicate an effective church? Attendance? Annual growth? Baptisms? Offerings? Number of guests? Percentage of people in small groups? Pastors have used all of these and probably a few more to evaluate the effectiveness of their church. But are these really the marks of an effective church?
A pastor friend recently posted this on his Facebook site (it wasn’t original with him).
THE MARK OF AN EFFECTIVE CHURCH IS NOT HOW MANY PEOPLE COME BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE DIFFERENTLY AS A RESULT OF HAVING BEEN THERE.
Wow! That hit close to home and it hurt (thanks brother RD!). Pastors can’t help but take this personally. Maybe too personally. You see pastors are part of that wonderful process that God uses to change lives. Yes, the Holy Spirit plays a major role and yes, the Word of God is extremely important and yes, the people themselves have a responsibility to change the things in their lives that need to be changed. But the pastor also plays a role. After all, he is the one who is invested with teaching the Word in ways that changes lives (2 Timothy 4:2). He is the one who will answer for the lives of the people in his church (Hebrews 13:17). And that means that when the church isn’t effective the pastor has to shoulder some of the responsibility.
But the bottom line is this – the effectiveness of a church is not about the size of the church, it’s about people who continue to live differently as a result of having been in the church. It’s possible to have a church of a thousand uncommitted people. That would be a church where no one is living differently as a result of having been there. And it’s possible to have a church of fifty people whose lives have been, and are continuing to be changed because they were there (of course pastors want both – a church of a thousand whose lives have been changed!). When we begin to judge the effectiveness of a church by any standard other than changed lives, we are missing the point of church. It’s not about the numbers (and I’m like any other pastor, I’d like bigger numbers!), it’s about the lives. Changed lives.
So back to the question: How Effective is Your Church? No, not your pastor’s church – YOUR church. You. How effective are you as a Christian? Forget the size of your church, have you cooperated with the Spirit of God and the Word of God and seen consistent spiritual change in your life? The effectiveness of your church will depend on the spiritual change in your life and the lives of the other people in your church.
Stay in the Word