The standard we use to judge the success of a company or business today is the bottom line, the numbers that show how much profit they made. Unfortunately we carry that standard over to the church as well. Many feel that the more people who attend a church and the larger the church budget the greater the church. That is not how God evaluates churches though.
I have been pastoring the same small church for over 30 years. There were several times in the early years when I wanted to quit, when I thought we weren’t successful because we continued to stay small. God taught me that the way He evaluates the health of a church has nothing to do with the number of people who attend or how much money it has. After all, we don’t know the size of a single church in the Bible. We do know if they are healthy and growing spiritually, but we don’t know their size because to God that isn’t important.
What does God expect from a healthy church? How can we tell if a church is healthy and growing? How can we tell if we as individuals are healthy and growing? We are commanded to grow (2 Peter 3:18), but just what does that mean? How can we measure our growth?
When my children were young we measured their growth every 6 months. We would mark on a chart how tall they were and we could see how much they had grown since the last time. We don’t have that kind of measuring stick to tell if we or our church is growing, but we do have some standards in God’s Word which can help us measure growth. I want to give you 10 of them. See how you are doing compared to them, and see how your church is doing as well.
1. Do you yearn more and more for heaven, think about it, etc?
Philippians 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men … while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
As you grow spiritually, you will think more about heaven and look forward to it more and more. When we are new Christians heaven is a nice but vague place, but the closer we get to God the more we look forward to being in heaven with Him.
As we become more like Jesus this world and the things of it are less important. The sin and suffering become more and more distasteful to us. We think often of heaven and being in perfection with God for all eternity? The things of this earth fade but our heavenly home becomes more and more real.
Do you yearn more for heaven than you used to? That is a sign you are growing spiritually.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)