Our culture is always pushing the 'bigger, better, stronger' idea but it's important for us to not get suckered into only following just these values.
1 Thessalonians 2.1-16
Reference: v.1 You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. (NIV Bible)
Explore: Usually our idea of success is based on bigger, better, stronger. Leonard Sweet – a professor, ordained minister and one of the most influential American Christian thinkers of our time – encourages people to re-imagine church success. Some of the people who have sat under his tutelage came up with these metaphors to determine success within a church:
The number of pictures on the church wall of unwed mothers holding their newborn babies in their arms for the first time.The number of phone calls from community leaders asking the church’s adviceThe number of organizations using the church buildingThe number of days the pastor doesn’t spend time in the church office but in the communityThe amount of dollars saved by the local schools because the church has painted the wallsThe number of people wearing good, free clothes that used to belong to members of the churchThe number of times the church band has played family-friendly music in the local coffee shopThe number of micro-loans given by members in the church
They are not your 'normal' levels of success but they certainly raise some interesting ideas of what is truly considered important and 'successful' in our churches.
Application: It seems that Paul, Silas and Timothy were feeling the need to explain the 'success' of their previous visit to the Thessalonians. Maybe others were judging them from the 'bigger, better, stronger' criteria and the missionaries were wanting to shed a different light.
Our culture is always pushing the 'bigger, better, stronger' idea but it's important for us to not get suckered into only following just these values. While they are not always evil, we must always weigh up our measure of success by exploring where love has been present. Jesus calls us to love Him and love others. Surely our measure of being a successful Christ-follower would be how obedient we are to His commands. Maybe we could assess our lives in the same way. It's not about how much money we earn, how many letters after our name or how many relationships we've been in. For us to discern ourselves as a success Christian we must gauge our love levels.
Prayer: Lord, in life we often strive for more money, more possessions and more acquaintances. Help us to develop our love for You and for others so that we can be 'successful' in your eyes.
How are your 'love levels' going? What additional measures would you add to the above list to assess a successful church?
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This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.