Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How To Measure The Church

"I believe that the goal of every church must be to so grow in Christ, so mature in faithfulness, so increase in love and wisdom and justice and peace that if any person was to ask you what you think heaven will be like you could someday actually say, "Do you want to know what heaven is like? Come and see. Come to my church and hang out with my friends and see the way we live, worship and serve together. Come and see." Tod Bolsinger

"Often we hear the remark that we have live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church. Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical "ins and outs" that we are no longer focused on Jesus.

The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to what we came to hear. Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love. Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge." Henri Nouwen

Whenever we look at church and talk about success, different ideas and comparisons arise. The three big measurements that get on the radar screen have been the A, B, C's: attendance, buildings, cash and systems. While these can be helpful, I've found that the best and most biblical way is to look at what the church produces- disciples.

As we are changed by the message of Jesus and live out the new reality in the midst of others, we allow God to tranform us from the inside. We become more and more like Jesus Christ himself. Our attitude will then reflect Philippians chapter 2 and our life will reveal the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In this environment love will reign, not judgment and self-rightousness. After all, the first measurement of the church begins with ourselves: have we been growing in love and faith? Have we allowed our old self to be crucified each day? Are we clothing ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience? (Colossians 3:12)

Are we reflecting the glory and love of God when we're together as a church? Do people want to pinch us in order to see if we're real because of the way we love each other?

Let's not get stuck in the workings of the church as Henri Nouwen cautions us, but get passionate about the mission of our church. Allow yourself to become a disciple and take Hope to the world!


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