What makes an “effective” church?

yesterday,  after throwing stones at our love of using size as a measurement of a church’s worth,  channing asked me a question:

what metric do i use for measuring a church’s effectiveness?   so it got me thinking…

first off, i think we need to ask the question,  “effective at what?”

  • effective at getting baptisms?
  • effective at raising money?
  • effective at developing healthy relationships?
  • effective at big productions?
  • effective at restoring broken marriages?
  • effective at caring for the poor?
  • effective at creating programs?
  • effective at building small groups?
  • effective at mentoring those younger in the faith?
  • effective at planting new churches?
  • effective at sending missionaries around the world?
  • effective at studying the bible?
  • effective at praying?
  • effective at being authentic?
  • effective at witnessing?
  • effective at hiring staff?
  • effective at building christlike character?

enough. you get the point. effectiveness looks different depending on what’s being evaluated…and in what context.

a case could be made for the value of expansion.   25 baptisms are better than 5.   a $2.5 mil budget is better than a $250k one.   ten restored marriages are better than one. sort of.

is one church that is strong in twenty areas of ministry,  necessarily a healthier,  more effective church,  than one that is strong in just two areas?   it depends on the who is being reached.

practically speaking,  what that means is a large,  expansive church may still never be effective with the people that north point is.   i would like to think north point’s effectiveness is not compromised by it’s size.   it is refined by it’s size.

that’s why i prefer to consider church health,  rather than church effectiveness,  when i do my evaluating.

a “healthy” church has necessary characteristics like:  study and authenticity and christlike character and servant hearts and loving relationships and sacrificial lifestyles and compassion for the poor and solid doctrine.   they may,  or may not,  have charismatic leaders or slick buildings or modern technology or well-oiled programs or fat budgets.   but they can still be healthy.

without the integrity of “healthy” people and “healthy” systems,  the trappings of success and effectiveness can be nothing more than masks that hide dead men’s bones….no matter how big your church is.


One thought on “What makes an “effective” church?

  1. first, i’m glad you attempted to answer the question.

    second, i’m going to add my nickle…

    when i asked about effectiveness, i was thinking of the word effective with “effect” being a verb. here’s the definition: to produce as an effect; bring about; accomplish; make happen

    so my question really was: how do get the desired results we’re aiming for? so in your context, what is a “healthy church” look like? (i just used a different term) or in other terms – we’re looking for quality not quantity given our values. so here’s the tougher question: how do we measure “quality”? it’s something I’ve thought a lot about and realize it isn’t as easy as one thinks. but i am forced to go back to Jesus’ words – they will know you are my followers because of your love for one another. which begs another question what does love look like? how do you measure it? does it always look the same?

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