People are always asking me if it is possible to measure the effectiveness of a church.  My answer is “Yes!” The problem isn’t – can it be measured – but, by what standard do we measure the effectiveness of a church. Too many people want to measure effectiveness around church health. I don’t think church health is the way to measure. A better way to measure is around faithfulness. So the question becomes, “How do you measure the faithfulness of a church?”

I’m never concerned about church health, because to do so invariably results in conversations about family theory and conflict management.  Since the church is not a family and church health is not an issue in the Scriptures, I prefer to measure effectiveness around the faithfulness of a church.

Faithfulness is what congregations and individuals should be about. And the only way I know for a church or an individual to be biblically faithful is for them to carry out the Great Commission.

Yes, I know, there is also the great commandment. But consider this. What Jesus chose to emphasize for us with his dying breath, or at least what the early church remembered, was two things – “Go make disciples” and “Be my witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.” Most people feel as if death bed confessions and pronouncements usually hold more weight than things said during life. So I put the Great Commission as the prime directive for the church and thus the true measure of faithfulness. A church is faithful if it is focused on the redemption of lost people (notice I’m not measuring faithfulness by the number of conversions but by the attitude of the congregation).

In the same way, I measure individual faithfulness by how focused a person is on reaching the lost. I think the full circle of spiritual maturity is attained when the individual weeps over his or her city as Jesus did Jerusalem. When our people begin asking, “What can we do to reach the lost?”, you can bet spiritual maturity is growing among them.

Reaching out to the lost isn’t a program or the responsibility of a committee – it is the absolute measure of congregational and individual faithfulness.

In my book Unfreezing Moves, the first unfreezing move a church can make is to develop a solid biblical community of faith.  Then I list four things that this biblical community must have – spiritual leaders, trust, absence of on-going conflict, and a desire to connect with the outside world. You know your leaders are growing into spiritual leaders when they cease worrying about the church taking care of them and begin to seek ways to authentically connect with the outside world and introduce it to Jesus.

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