The idea is clear. From the word effective,
we find a two-part definition which begs a two-part
First, when I
ask if the church is effective, I'm really
asking if it's adequate to accomplish its purpose.
Yes, it is. It is adequate in that God has given us
everything we need in Christ Jesus to get the job
done. The church is so adequate that the gates of
hell shall not prevail against it. The church is inseparable
from the Kingdom of God which is eternal, and there
shall be no end.
five-fold purpose: worship, fellowship, evangelism,
discipleship, and ministry. There is not one of these
the church is inadequate to accomplish. Jesus commissioned
us and empowered us for the task, ensuring the church's
adequacy. He would not ask us to do what He did not
empower us to do.
But notice the
second part of the definition: producing the intended
or expected result. In the churches I've observed,
I've looked around, watched the pastor and staff,
evaluated the church's impact on the community around
it and its effectiveness as it relates to whether
or not these churches were producing the results Jesus
would expect; my conclusion may surprise you.
You may expect
me to conclude that since there were empty seats all
around me that the church was ineffective. But our
Lord's definition of effectiveness is far different
from ours. Too often, we judge a church's effectiveness
by the number of people who join the church. That
is an important indicator, but not all-important.
indicator is related to equipping the saints to
do the work of ministry. In other words, how is
the membership doing in the area of bearing fruit?
The church that's effective equips its members to
I observed were doing that, but it wasn't a priority
for some of them; nor does it seem to be for the church
as a whole. It happens occasionally, sporadically,
and disjointedly. What about you and your church?
If your church is effective, it has taught you the
basics of the faith.
Take this brief
quiz. Check "Yes" or "No" (mentally
if necessary) for each statement about yourself:
_ Yes _ No If
the Spirit moves me to share my faith during a conversation
with someone, I am
I can lead them to the Lord (I know the Gospel,
I know how to share it,
I know how to help someone pray to repent of
their sins and accept Jesus as
Yes _ No If I lead someone to
faith in Jesus, I know how to share, and where to
find, the assurance of salvation verses.
Yes _ No I know how to disciple
my new convert.
Yes _ No I daily have, and know
how to teach my new convert to have, a Quiet Time.
Yes _ No When I go to church,
I genuinely worship God; I don't go to be entertained.
Yes _ No I know why I need, and
regularly engage in, genuine Christian fellowship.
Yes _ No I am actively involved
in some sort of service (called a ministry in Scripture).
These are the basics of the faith that every adult,
young adult, and older teen who's been a believer
for a year or more ought to know. If we answered "No"
to one or more of these, then we should call into
question the effectiveness of the church we attend.
In Hebrews 5:11-14, the writer wrote:
"We have much to say
about this, but it is hard to explain because you
are slow to learn. (12) In fact, though by this time
you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach
you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again.
You need milk, not solid food! (13) Anyone who lives
on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted
with the teaching about righteousness. (14) But solid
food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained
themselves to distinguish good from evil."
From this passage we see that, in
all fairness to those in leadership, it's not always
the fault of the leaders. In some cases, the people
aren't willing to learn; and some of them just don't
However, many churches are spoon-feeding
their people, or worse, are giving them only the milk
of the Word and not the necessary meat that will equip
them in the five basic areas of the Christian life
(see above). So, when I attend various churches and
ask myself, "Is this church effective?"
what I'm really looking for is evidence that the members
are bearing fruit.
You see, just because a church is
growing numerically doesn't mean it's healthy. It
may mean that it's not effective in the things that
matter but is effective in the things that don't.
If the majority of new members join because of a slick
advertising campaign, a new building, an additional
service, or a charismatic pastor, rather than having
been led there by the Spirit to join, then the church
is only effective in the things that don't matter
and is just asking for trouble. A large number of
new members is initially encouraging to pastor and
people, but in the long run, you end up with more
consumers than contributors and the church never gets
out of diapers…it remains in the "milk"
Consider this: you walk into a church,
the place is packed, the lights are bright, the music
is lively, and there's a lot of activity, but there's
a disconnect in that most of the people there are
wanderers; they wandered in to see what all the excitement
was about and then, after the service, they'll wander
out; they never got connected. So they come, they
sit, they observe, they leave. If they miss next week,
no one notices because they've been convinced to
come but not equipped to serve. The church
has failed to connect with them and has proven to
be ineffective in that which really matters. What's
the difference between this and going to see a musical?
None. The person goes in, gets about as involved in
worship as he or she would in a musical, and leaves
having been entertained, not transformed.
Now consider the effective church
whose members are equipped. The new person who arrives
is there because someone brought him or invited him.
If he just wandered in, he is quickly befriended.
The equipped believer sits with him, introduces him
to the pastor and others around the church, and follows
up with him during the week. If he's already a Christian,
the equipped believer helps him get plugged-in and
assists him in evaluating where he is in the discipleship
If he's not already a Christian, the
equipped believer is prepared to help him cross the
line of faith. In no time, the new Christian's being
discipled and equipped and starts bringing friends
of his own to church. Everyone is accounted for in
that every person who walks into the church is known
by someone who will help him or her to be equipped
to minister in Jesus' name. Only then will it be possible
for him or her to live the abundant Christian life
and know genuine joy and peace.
These verses are on my heart from
John 15:5-6: "I
am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains
in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart
from Me you can do nothing. (6) If anyone does not
remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away
and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into
the fire, and burned."
So here's the bottom line. The effective
church is the equipping church. It is growing spiritually
by leaps and bounds. Numerically it may also be growing
by leaps and bounds as equipped believers are leading
people to Christ and getting them involved in church.
But don't be surprised if it's only growing nominally
numerically. Why? Because it's following the biblical
model: the bar's been set high; the believer is challenged;
and each member is encouraged and expected to bear
fruit. That leads to an accountability that our postmodern
world is usually uncomfortable with.
Jesus didn't command us to go and
make converts or even go and make new church members;
He commanded us to go and make disciples. The disciple
is what you and I are called to be. He or she is the
one who can answer "Yes" to all the questions
on the quiz above. They are equipped Christians, not
As E.M. Bounds said, being a nominal
Christian is an oxymoron; we can't be both. To say
our "Christianity" is nominal is to admit
that our faith is non-existent. To be a Christian
is to be in the grasp of a vibrant, living faith.
The normal Christian life is the growing Christian
life. We can't stand in the presence of God and remain
Are you being equipped by the church
you attend? If not, ask your pastor to help you find
someone to equip you. He'll be thrilled that you asked.
2Dictionary.com, Origin: 1350-1400; ME < L effect?vus
practical, equiv. to effect(us), ptp. of efficere
(see EFFECT ) + -?vus -IVE
3Dictionary.com, Origin: 1350-1400; ME effectuel (<
AF), late ME effectual < ML effectu?lis, equiv.
to L effectu-, s. of effectus EFFECT + -?lis -AL 1
Copyright © 2009. Faith Matters by
Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights reserved.