the weblog of Alan Knox

Churches, Events, and Maturity

Posted by on Aug 24, 2010 in blog links, discipleship, gathering | 5 comments

Churches, Events, and Maturity

Steve from “Gospel-Centered Living” has published another excellent article called “Confusing Participation with Transformation.” He says that it’s easy for churches to spend huge amounts of time, money, and energy promoting and carrying out big events, and then to confuse participation at these events with authentic Christian living. (I think this sometimes happens weekly, unfortunately.)

He says:

We should ask, “What is our mission, again?”  Is it to make church members or make disciples?  Can I measure my spiritual formation with my calendar?  Can my church measure its success with attendance rolls?

Those are good questions. What do you say? How should the church “measure its success?”


5 Comments

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  1. 8-25-2010

    Depends on how we measure fruit. We are to produce fruit, and we are continually pruned to produce more (or set aside as useless).

    An old standard seems to have been that attendance and tithes were the key numbers for evaluating a church. Some used to add baptisms. Today, scores seem to be given for coolest bands or biggest events. I’m sure we have other, similarly misdirected short hand measures.

    Steve well points out we can tell what we think is a good measure by where we “spend huge amounts of time, money, and energy.” Let’s be honest: good preaching and a good building are key expenses for the majority of church budgets. I suppose faithful tithers and attendees are what it takes to afford that. So, that well defines what we think is a disciple. Yes? Sadly, yes. “Where your treasure is…”

    Disciples? Need to (re)define that, and then we can define more meaningful measures (…well, it’s said).

    So many ways to define disciple. My own shorthand is internal: Someone who continually bows their knee to the Lord (no longer ruling their own life; no longer drifting along letting the world rule/inform their life). I think that is a real point in life (for some, fairly sudden; for others, over time you come to realize a difference), that it is also a continuous process never completed here. Much more could be said, and many definitions are correct.

    But these inner movements evidence themselves in everyday life. The fruit of the Spirit is experiential. Holiness. A servant mindset that takes form in actions and attitude.

    But, measures? I’m not so sure measures are what is called for. Would this be like scoring your husband or wife? Yeah, you could come up with measures. “Honey, you’re a 72 this month. You are doing good!”

    But only those who are not madly in love need measures. If you are in love, you know. And your spouse knows. If you aren’t, you could look for measures to shore up your conscience or to try to convince your spouse and others. To prove to yourself even that you are pretty good at being “in love.” Worse, you might use your score to compare yourself with other couples. “Honey, we’re an 83! The average is only 61. And Bob and Sue next door? I hear they are only a 77, and everyone thinks they are sooo in loooove! Hah!”

    I wonder. Did God already install an internal gauge of sorts? If you are a disciple, you know. Your whole world is different. Your whole way of seeing things is changing. If you are among other disciples, you all know. Your joy mingles, and your labors multiply. You are free from competition and seeking to elevate yourself; in place of jealousies, you are glad for His glory through another.

    Rather than measures, I would seek means. And, I think He has provided those very means in His design of the church, which we have much ignored. We have killed it’s immune system, blocked off it’s pulmonary system, fed it a diet of milk, and paralyzed it to keep it from movement and exercise. Yes, the Body is sick, discipleship rare. Neither can be fixed by human energy or human wisdom.

  2. 8-25-2010

    Thanks brother. My internal gauge is “pegged”.

  3. 8-25-2010

    Art,

    I like the idea of seeking means instead of measures. Thanks for a great comment!

    Eric,

    My internal gauge is pegged also. :)

    -Alan

  4. 8-28-2010

    Thinking about Art’s comment about fruit being a possible measure. I’m thinking that developing the fruit of the Spirit is a process, that takes place in so many different ways (and generally a lot more slowly than we’d like). It’s not easily “measured.” In a way, it’s a lot more anecdotal than statistical.

    Anecdotes are stories. Stories that are part of the big story. And it takes all those little stories together to see the big story; measuring on one or two or even a few more anecdotes on their own can actually be really misleading. We can only see the developing pattern if we are there, day by day, watching the story developing over a long time.

    We need long-term, daily, deep Christ-centered relationships to truly encourage and edify each other toward maturity in Jesus, individually and as the church together.

    (And we need others to help us measure ourselves. I, at least, am notoriously dim-sighted to the reality of myself.)

  5. 8-28-2010

    Norma,

    You said, “We need long-term, daily, deep Christ-centered relationships to truly encourage and edify each other toward maturity in Jesus, individually and as the church together.” I could not agree more!

    -Alan