Is Exciting Necessarily Effective? If you hope to find tips on how to build up your local congregation here, you will be disappointed. Things like gifted musicians, dynamic preachers, diverse programs and beautiful liturgy, while popular in the modern church, are not winning outsiders to Christ. Popular churches, as honest pastors will tell you, are attracting a few seekers, but mostly Christians from other churches. The traits described here come directly from the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. By applyin g them, the New Testament church turned the world upside down.
These characteristics work. You will be surprised at some of them, because they are rarely mentioned from the pulpit, especially this first one.
Trait No. 1: A Good Reputation. Corporations spend billions to enhance their public image and reputations. Some, like Exxon, lost billions because of a bad reputation. If you want to be successful, nothing beats the good will of the public. If you are known to be honest, sincere, well-run by happy, contented folks, people will beat a path to your door.
The apostle Paul understood this. He wrote, “Have a good reputation of those outside the church.” (I Tim. 3:7). Read the Pastoral Epistles carefully and you will find this theme repeated often. He exhorted his pastors to teach the people to make this a high priority. It was an idea he got from Jesus.
Jesus possessed a flair for PR His command. “love one another, that the world will know you are my disciples, was given so his followers would reflect God’s agape love, BUT ALSO to make a good impression on outsiders. It is not enough to preach the gospel. It must be demonstrated to others by a harmonious spirit by those who represent that gospel. Quarreling over things like music, doctrines and polity demonstrates the opposite.
When I visit hospitals, I can often sense the spirit of the place. If the staff isn’t getting along or morale is low, outsiders sense it. In the church, the respect of the public sets the table for preaching the gospel. People are much more inclined to listen to what we say if they like the way we interact with one another.
Unlike Rodney Dangerfield, the first believers in Jerusalem had lots of respect. And you want excitement? Luke paints a clear picture of how these ordinary believers generated it. “The believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another…they had their meals together in their homes, praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their number (Acts 2:44, 46, 47 Good News Translation)
Jesus predicted that a harmonious spirit will cause ”the world to believe.” And it did.
How Do We Measure Up? If we wish to know the effectiveness of our church, we might ask outsiders. Do we have the respect and favor of the man on the street? Does he pay attention to us or ignore us? Is he aware of our genuine concern for others or our religious and moral agendas? Does he sense we get along with each other, or that we disagree over stuff?
Oh, Lord, Have mercy upon us and forgive us for our divisions. Raise up leaders like the apostles who will teach us that our love for each other and our accord are more important than things we tend to quarrel about. Thank You.
Please, Your comments are very welcome.