I have been challenged recently with the question: What is the mark of a successful church? What does success look like for us at Ridgeview? Every person, family, team, & organization, etc. has a scorecard for success. For sports teams it is to outscore the opponent, or in golf, underscore the opponent. It may be making sales quotas, having kids pass the PACT tests & making good grades, or a good home & social life. For churches, we are measured by the big three: nickels, noses, and numbers or bodies/baptisms, buildings, and budgets. The most common question I'm asked by those outside our church is, "How many are you running?"
Having grown up in a large Southern Baptist Church and having attended some of the largest churches in the America while a student in Texas, I've seen large. I've enjoyed being part of something large like a church. There is an energy that can come from large crowds in a church. Also, there are many resources a large church can use to make an impact for the Kingdom. However, if I'm not careful I can keep score only to realize I'm measuring the wrong things. For example, I like to play golf. I will take a few practice swings before taking a real whack at the ball. I don't write on my scorecard at the end of the round how many practice swings I made. I don't consider it a win if I made more practice swings than my playing partner. I measure how many strokes it took me to get the ball in the hole and if that number is better than my playing partner, I win. That is success!
Jesus Christ gave us a scorecard upon which to measure the success of Ridgeview Church. It says nothing about how many people we have attending or how big our budget is or how many our auditorium seats we have. Jesus says the measure of success for a church is the Great Commission. We find it in Matthew 28:19-20. It says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." When He returns He will measure the success of our church on how well we implemented that commission.
Inherent in the commands of the Great Commission is that of making disciples. That is our scorecard. In fact, even more specifically, success is making disciples who make disciples. At Ridgeview, we are intentional about making disciples. We believe disciples are made in community with other believers. We believe our Growth Groups are huge tools in the disciple making process. We have seen life-change this year as people have been part of a Growth Group.
We want to grow as a church numerically but that can't be the only indication of a win for us. We want to make disciples. Let's measure how many people we have in Growth Groups and how many people are growing in their faith, serving in their faith, and sharing their faith. I believe that is the kind of measuring God wants us to do. When we are doing those things, God will give the increase.
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