What makes a church great? It depends on who you ask. There are some people who consider a church to be “great” when its average attendance reaches a certain point (e.g., 250 or 500). Only a great church—they argue—could attract that many people. The presence of many people is their proof that it is a great church. Bigger is better, they would argue because if your church is not big, it must not be doing something right. The problem with this mentality is that bigger is not always better. If the goal becomes to “get bigger”, a church is tempted to ask people what they want and construct the church around the desires and preferences of the community. It’s the Burger King mentality creeping into the church: “Have it your way!” Want concert quality music, we can do that. What music that makes you feel good, we can do that. Want lots of programs for your family, we can do that. Want to be treated like a celebrity, we can do that. Want uplifting sermons that will not convict you of sin, we can do that. Want a gorgeous building to house all of it, we got it.
While there is nothing wrong with a pastor being dynamic or music being phenomenal or programs that meet needs or gorgeous facilities, the danger is that a church can do all these things and acquire a large crowd and not be a great church. In fact, churches can have all of the above and be poor churches. Just because a church is bigger does not mean it is necessarily better. Pastor David Jeremiah recently warned that “many U.S. churches today have forgotten their purpose, becoming entertainment-driven social organizations eager to blend in with secular culture instead of focusing on biblical discipleship.”
Maybe we should assume that great churches are smaller churches? But too many smaller churches are in danger of closing their doors. Sadly, they are not great (they are not even healthy) because their traditions have become idols. “We’ve never done it that way” became their battle cry many years ago and they refuse to make the necessary changes to their methods in order to efficiently communicate the message of Jesus Christ. Churches can become content with lifeless preaching and teaching, apathetic music, and unconcerned congregations. As Thom Rainer has said, “The Great Commission has become the Great Omission”.
Who Decides Greatness?
So, what is a great church? To answer that question, we must ask it a different way. We must ask, “Who decides what makes a church great?” That is God. So, what does God consider to be a great church? What does God say about the preacher? What does God say about the music? What does God say about the facilities and the programs? What does God say makes a church great? The health of a church depends on its obedience to God and His Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) and His Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It is for this reason that two of our five Core Values are: The Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
God’s Great Commandment for the Church
Core Value #4 is the Great Commandment. The Great Commandment is God’s call for His church to love. We value the dignity of all mankind and we stir up one another to love and good works. We desire that our words and actions would bring glory to God and be a blessing to our neighbors.
- This is demonstrated by our commitment to being peacemakers and forgiving those who sin against us. We refuse to speak ill (gossip, slander) of one another and commit to building up one another by our words and actions.
- This is demonstrated by our commitment to hold one another accountable to live holy lives that bring glory to God.
- This is demonstrated by our sacrificial love for everyone that guides all we think, say, and do.
God’s Great Commission to the Church
Core Value #5 is the Great Commission. The Great Commission is God’s call for His church to make disciples. We value discipleship that results in all nations obeying all that Jesus commanded. We desire to make Christian disciples and not Christian consumers.
- This is demonstrated by our commitment to being discipled and being a disciple-maker.
- This is demonstrated by our Sunday School, Small Groups, and Ministry Teams that emphasize accountability and encouragement.
- This is demonstrated by our commitment to reaching out to our community and to the greater Scott City area.
- This is demonstrated by our commitment to giving and going to the ends of the earth for evangelism. We commit to cooperating with likeminded churches and associations in order to reach all the world so that they may all know and love Jesus Christ.
A great Church loves God and others and makes disciples. First, we enlist them (Evangelism), Second, we equip them (Discipleship), and Third, we entrust them (Leadership Development). We will learn about each of these three key aspects over the next few weeks. Our desire is to be a great Church that loves God and others and make disciples.