Usually people might say, “A large attendance”, “The sense of joy when you are there”, “A variety of age groups”, “Being able to pay all the bills.” These are good answers, but by themselves, they fall short. There’s got to be something more.
If we take only these definitions as the characteristics of a healthy church, how is CHURCH different from a CIRCUS? Circuses have large attendances; people want to be there; multiple generations attend; and, if run right, can make a profit! But is it a CHURCH?
That may sound like a ridiculous question, but it is probably the most important question we can ask! What makes us, first and foremost, a CHURCH?
Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 11:2-5 “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”
Jesus wasn’t concerned with the size of the crowds, or the number of ministries that were being done, or how popular they were with the authorities. Jesus was concerned with ARE PEOPLE’S LIVES BEING CHANGED? Whether it is 3, 300, or 3000 – are people finding hope and healing in their relationships with us? This should be our first determination in whether we are in a healthy lifestyle. Are we trusting in Jesus more ourselves, and are other people wanting to trust Him because of our example?
I once heard of a family who was concerned that their baby girl wasn’t growing as fast as the others in her playgroup. The parents took her to the doctor to see if there was anything going on that they should be aware of. After a long examination, the doctor came out with a big smile on her face and said, “I have good news! Your daughter is naturally petite! She is NEVER going to be as big as the other kids!”
We don’t have to be the largest church in Bonita Springs in order to fulfill our calling. We don’t have to be the smallest, either! We simply have to love whomever God sends to us, and pray for and encourage each other. We can find joy in the fact that we are called by Jesus, as we are, to join Him in transforming the world!
- Rev. Bill