The Litmus Test for the Church

Over the past 12 years, I have been a part of 5 different churches.  Some I have left, other have left me but most are due to relocation.   I went on a little fact finding mission to find out how my previous churches are doing, only to find that all – EVERY ONE– has gone through a church split, fired the pastor or shut down all together.  I believe this to have a simple explanation.  All of these were relativity new church plants based on the vision of a single person.  I am not against church plants or planters, but one man’s vision for reaching a certain people group is not a good litmus test for success ; nor is the number of attendees, the percentage of giving or outward missions.  Yet these are the standard methods of testing church growth and by default “success”.  Ed Young, for instance, recently said in his “Calvinism rant” that he has baptized 2632 people where as another church has only baptized 26.  Profound arrogance aside, certainly that’s a good test – right?  I think not! I think the best answer to this is to look at the words of Jesus in regard to the church.  Jesus gave us a test of a healthy church yet I doubt a single church looks at it to determine the health of its church.  I believe the passages in question are seen as an after thought, on the road to discovering prophecy and most have never looked at it’s importance.  None or very few spend time personalizing these words to their own experience yet everyone fits into one or more of its categories.  I am, of course, referring to the book of Revelation.  Perhaps instead of determining the success of your church by looking at external proofs, maybe instead we should test our fellowships based on the words of Jesus to the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.  Jesus had some good things and bad things to say to each of these churches and I am willing to bet each and every one of the church I attended over the past 12 years could have avoided destruction had they reflected on where they fit and made necessary changes to align with the words of Christ.

Pastors, instead of quickly reading through Revelation to get to the end of the world stuff, why not stop and reflect on the boring church stuff first and heed the words of Christ as to how he dealt directly with these church plants. Just because you have a mission, vision and core values does not mean that they are Jesus’ mission, vision and core values and I would highly suggest you share his vision and not your own.  The church is His, not yours so His, not your, mission is of primary importance.

Consider this, the words of the Bible are inspired by God Himself, it’s not fluff and it has an application.  Have you ever stopped to consider why Jesus took the time to give a warning to the churches before talking about the judgement of humanity?  Maybe they are more linked than we think.

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