I re-read Barna’s book on the Habits of Highly Effective Churches. Recommended. Too many churches lose sight of their basic mission. And, sadly, we have attended a few of those churches.
Some excerpts from Barna’s book:
In our culture it is easy to get confused about what “effective ministry”? looks like at the grassroots level. Our interviews with pastors and laity confirm that there is a tremendous degree of confusion about the practical meaning of effective ministry. For instance, we know that many believe that each of the following is an indisputable mark of an effective church:
- having a sanctuary filled with 1,000 (or more) people at the weekend service;
- raising a million dollars a year (or more) for the church”™s ministry;
- donating a half-million dollars annually to global missions;
- adding buildings or constructing a new campus with at least 100,000 square feet of ministry facilities;
- sending church choirs to sing in churches, community events and on school campuses throughout the nation or overseas;
- broadcasting the church worship services throughout the region or country;
- offering a wide range of Christian education classes and ministry programs;
- having high name awareness in the community at-large;
- adding 100 (or more) new members in a year.
… Attendance figures, square footage, staff size, annual operating budget and the like are simplistic, sometimes misleading measures that overlook the most important aspect of any ministry: the hearts of the people. I”™m willing to bet that when the Lord examines a church His criteria have little to do with attendance statistics, budgeting complexities or program breadth. If His critique of the Pharisees and other religious leaders is any indication, His analysis will hinge on the depth of people”™s commitment to making their faith real and pure.
… It is very unusual to find a church that has developed a truly holistic ministry ”“ that is, a ministry that is effective in each of the six dimensions of ministry that constitutes the complete church.
What are those six dimensions? They are the very aspects that characterized the early church: worship, evangelism, Christian education, community among the believers, stewardship and serving the needy. These might be considered the six pillars of church ministry. When a church provides these elements of ministry, it is truly being the Church that Christ intended us to be.