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Are high attendance rates and huge church buildings signs of true success in the body of Christ?

Published by Steven Masood - August 29th 2014

Is a church with a big building and high attendance a sign of success? According to Barna Group, a Christian polling organization, almost half of Christians in the USA (49%) say church attendance is "somewhat" or "very" important, but half (51%) say it is "not too" or "not at all" important. The younger we are, the worse the numbers get. Only two in 10 adults under the age of 30 believe church is important; more than a third take an anti-church stance.

While 43% of those who attend church say they attend "to be closer to God," 40% of those who don't attend say, "I find God elsewhere" and 35% claim that "church is not relevant to me personally." (http://vimeo.com/user21423354)

My response: First of all I am not sure of such statistics. Secondly, churches should not be measuring “success” by how many attend their church. We should measure success by how effectively the church goes to people. Jesus did not wait for his culture to seek him. Rather, "he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons" (Mark 1:39). He met the needs of people, from physical needs to the deepest spiritual need: the need for loving relationship with our Creator.

Jesus launched a movement, not an institution. Indeed it is good to have a place of worship and fellowship where believers can get together but be reminded that nowhere does Jesus tell us to build physical church buildings. Rather, he tells us to make disciples for him (Matthew 28:18-20). We do this by taking Christ to our culture, like Peter did. This is how Jesus builds his church (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus said, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:10-14).

Since we know through Jesus’ words that “many will turn away from the faith”, it is important not to concentrate on numbers. Rather, we need to focus on sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ to all the nations. We need to implement effective discipleship, encouraging new believers to stand firm in Christ. The question should not be how to fill or expand church buildings. The question in line with Jesus' Great Commission is, "What should I do, Lord, to reach people with Your Love and Word today?"

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