Friday, November 21, 2008

11 Characteristics of Successful Churches - 1. Changed Lives

The 1st Characteristic of a Successful Church is undoubtably the most important:

Changed Lives
Are lives being positively transformed through the ministry? Are people being transformed to reflect the image of Jesus Christ with their lives? Note that this is not necessarily connected with how much theology they know or how many Bible verses they can quote from memory. Are the people learning to live Christ-honoring lives and to do so in order to bring Him glory?

Be careful if you're examining your own church or ministry. External changes are easily mistaken for genuine life-change.

3 Things People Mistake for Changed Lives:
1. Theological Knowledge
If you spend enough time in a church that's teaching anything you're bound to learn something. If a guy goes to an evangelical church enough times he's going to learn John 3:16 and John 14:6. We evangelicals like the book of John. He also might learn a few new words and phrases such as "Son of God" and "Trinity," but nevermind that he probably doesn't have a clue as to what the theological implications of those terms are.

2. Church Happy-Face
There is a difference, however, between churches where lives are truly being transformed and churches that encourage people (hopefully unintentionally) to put on a happy-face for church. It makes you wonder how people sing the old lyrics "And now I am happy all the day!" in good conscience when you see how they treat one-another in church and how they respond to the pastor when he says something that steps on their toes. As a person who has been the toe-stepper-onner, I can assure you that good, solid Christians are most certainly not "happy all the day."

3. Borg-like Assimilation to Christian Culture
As a person attends an evangelical church, the songs on his iPod slowly begin to change. Is language changes into something he can use in church without getting weird looks. Soon he looks just like the other church-goers around him and late at night when nobody is around he watches The Office, but is afraid to tell any of his new friends even though they watching The Office too.

Note: This is part 2 of the 12-part series "11 Characterics of Successful Churches."

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