The following was written by Pastor Keith Hoover of Bible Believer’s Historic Baptist Church, Mesick, Michigan.
I was recently asked the following question, “is your church a strong church?” I found this to be a hard question to answer. What did she mean by “a strong church?” It was an honest question. She seemed to sincerely want to know the answer, but how could I answer her without defining what a “strong church” is. Questions began to run through my mind. How does the American public measure the strength of a church? Does the Bible give us a standard by which to measure the strength of our church? Finally I had to address the question in my own mind. Is our church a strong church? In my next few blogs I will be attempting to answer these questions. So, here goes.
1. How does the American public measure the strength of a church?
I thought when I googled this subject that I would get dozens of hits that were not Biblically correct. There were a few. Some view a strong church as a church that is growing in numbers. Some say a strong church is one that has a program for everyone. The main goal of these churches is worldly success and popularity. This view is obviously wrong. I was somewhat surprised, however, to find that most of the web-sites I visited did a pretty good job of defining what a strong church was. I have to give credit where credit is due. I looked at Baptist websites, Church of Christ websites, Reformed websites, Community Church websites, non-denominational websites and Family Life Center websites just to name a few. Though they all had varying perspectives, they were highly informative and basically correct. Here is some of what I found.
What are the marks of a strong church?
1. “Commitment to the unity of the people of God.” I thought this one was pretty good. I guess it depends on what you mean by it but, here is a verse to back it.
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
2. “Strong leaders.” This one is true based on the following verse.
1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
The problem that I see with this one is that since the leader is by nature a member of the church, his strength would have to be defined by the same rule as the church. A strong church will have strong leaders but we have yet to define either.
3. “Strong families.” See number 2. Whether we are talking about a strong church, family, leader or society, the rule of measurement should be the same. If strong families make strong churches, what makes a strong family?
4. “It must praise God.” I agree completely. A strong church must praise God!
Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
One quick question though. Is God pleased, let alone praised, by weak churches? The second and third chapters of Revelation tell us of seven churches that God communicates with. It seems clear to me that only the strong churches were praising God. We can say “Praise the Lord” over and over again but if our lifestyle is displeasing to Him, our words are fruitless and our church is weak.
5. “It loves like a family.” This one is really good. I have been in churches that were correct doctrinally that felt like a tomb on the inside.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
A strong church will show love toward one another but a church is not the only society that does this. Shriners build hospitals. Large companies donate millions to charity. Love is a part of what a strong church is but there must be something more.
I found many other “marks of strong churches” listed. I will list a few of them briefly with my thoughts following.
- “It must be pure.” (True, but how do we define purity?)
- “Every member growing” (Sounds great but do you know of a church that has every member growing?)
- “Must have a vision for people.” (I agree. How do we know if it is the right vision?)
I found some valuable information in this search. It forced me to look at church strength through the eyes of other religious societies. I have done my best to acknowledge the good and the bad that I have found here. On to step two, “does the Bible give us a standard by which to measure the strength of our church?”
To be continued………..