A quick glance through books, magazines articles, conferences, and blogs in the pastor world reveals that pastors struggle with defining success in the church. My personal experiences and relationships confirm that this is a big issue in the heart and mind of church leaders. However, this is not only an issue for pastors and leaders; it is a matter for the members of a church as well. If a pastor doesn’t know how to measure and define success in the church, then how much more are the members of the church struggling week to week to know if their lives and the church are pleasing the Lord?
Success is often measured solely by attendance and giving. This makes sense when you consider that most businesses and organizations measure success this way. These are critical measurements in the church, but attendance and money are not adequate measures for determining the impact of the gospel in a church.
If the gospel is being preached, believed, followed, and shared, you will know. How will you know? You will know by examining your life, listen to your conversations, and remembering where you were a year ago. When the gospel is bearing fruit in our church, it will be bearing fruit in your life. Consider how God is using sermons, small groups, and relationships in your church to sanctify you and mature you in your faith. If the gospel is being proclaimed, then your life will bear the fruit of obedience.
If you are not experiencing spiritual growth and maturity as a Christian then take note of this: It doesn’t mean your church isn’t gospel-centered. You have to honestly examine if you have positioned yourself in your mind and heart to hear the Word and follow the Word. There are many who attend churches where the gospel is faithfully proclaimed and lived out who aren’t growing spiritually. Before you declare your church and pastor to be off, make sure the issue isn’t you.
After examining your life, turn your attention to your church. One mark of a gospel-centered church is the centrality of preaching Scripture. A gospel-centered church is grounded in the Word, and it bears fruit throughout the whole body. Do you see the evidence of God’s grace in your fellow church members in how they talk, think, and live? For instance, if so, then there are more and more people confessing their sin and temptations as they discuss their need for Christ each week.
To examine your church consider questions like these:
- Do members talk about Christ, His Word, the church, and their faith when they see each other in public?
- Are more and more members seeking to live according to the Bible in every way?
- Are people confessing Christ and being baptized on a regular basis?
- Is there an increase in participation in missions?
- Are married couples seeking help to have Christ-centered homes?
- Are singles pursuing purity and faithfulness to Christ?
- Are children and teenagers building their lives on the gospel instead of culture?
When the gospel is bearing fruit in the church, then there is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit works, He convicts and leads the people of God to live faithful to God’s Word.
When the gospel bears fruit, it makes sense that there will be more people involved, and if there are more people involved, then it makes sense that there will be an increase in giving so that the same gospel can be proclaimed to others. But, you don’t have to grow in the gospel to get more people and have more money. If your pastor is faithfully proclaiming the gospel, equipping the church to do ministry, developing more leaders in the church, counseling members to live according to God’s Word, and praying for the church; then pray for him and join pursuing obedience to the gospel in your life.