Measuring Maximum Effectiveness

Is your church or ministry reaching maximum effectiveness? Your answer to that question depends on how you define and measure effectiveness.

How Some Churches & Ministries Measure Maximum Effectiveness

  • If based on the number of members and/or attendees, some churches might seem like they’ve arrived.
  • If evaluated in terms of efficient administrative organization, some churches might seem effective.
  • If measured for excellent media and technological prowess, some churches might appear to have it all.
  • If gauged by the number of programs offered, some churches might feel pretty good about themselves.
  • If determined by the size of the pastoral staff, some churches might surpass others.

How God Measures Maximum Effectiveness

Certainly God values numeric growth, efficiency, and excellence. And, our programs and pastoral staff can be used by Him to accomplish what He wants us to do. Yet, if we read Ephesians 4:12-13, we learn that we haven’t arrived until . . .

  • we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
  • and become mature
  • attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:15-16 continues to speak about growing up “into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Questions to Ask to Determine if We are Reaching Maximum Effectiveness

Instead of asking how many members, staff, or programs we have, or to what level of efficiency or excellence we have obtained, let’s first ask questions that line up with God’s standard of measurement as found in Ephesians 4:12-13.

  • How well are we getting along in our church?
  • How well do we handle disagreements and differences?
  • Where are people in their walk with God?
  • To what extent are we discipling people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ?
  • How much are we looking to Christ as the Head of the Church?
  • How Christ-like are we?
  • How important is Christ-like character to us?

Once we can satisfactorily answer these questions, then we might find answers to the other types of questions we often ask to measure effectiveness more useful.

But, it’s also important to ask how God intends for us to reach His standard of maximum effectiveness. Look for the next post.

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To Love More & More

Love More & More - It's the Greatest

Love — the greatest commandment we can follow (Matt. 22:37-40), the greatest characteristic we can possess (1 Cor. 13:13), the greatest credential we can have as followers of Jesus Christ (Jn. 13:35).

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1:9-11)

Why wouldn’t we want to love more and more?

To Love More and More Requires Dependence on God

Notice how the Apostle Paul prayed that the Philippian Christians would grow in their love. — “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more …” He didn’t ask the people to work at deepening their love. He asked God to do it. Remember that love is a fruit of the Spirit, something He develops within us (Gal. 5:22).

To Love More and More Revolves Around Knowing God More and More

To know God is to better understand love because God is love. — “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 Jn. 4:16) The more fully we comprehend His love, the more confident and secure we become in Him which spills over into a greater ability to love (1 Jn. 4:17-19).

To Love More and More Results in Goodness and Glory to God

The more we love, the more discerning we become and the more likely we will be to do what is best and right, obvious that we’re followers of Jesus Christ. No wonder love is the greatest commandment, characteristic, and credential we can have!

Strength & Courage Needed?

We live in turbulent times. We face many unknowns. The kind of strength and courage we need won’t come from within. Nor will we find it in our circumstances. We need the strength and courage Joshua, of the Old Testament times, needed as He faced many unknowns, seeking to lead a rebellious people.

Strength & Courage in Turbulent Times

Where Joshua Found Strength & Courage

God’s Promises

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from … No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. (Josh. 1:1-6)

God’s Presence

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you … Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Josh. 1:5, 9)

God’s Precepts

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Josh. 1:7-8)

Finding Strength & Courage Today

Need strength and courage? Though our circumstances may differ from Joshua’s and all the particular promises and precepts God gave him may not apply to us, we nonetheless serve the same God.

  • Reflect on the many promises throughout Scripture that apply to you. (2 Cor. 1:20; 7:1; Heb. 8:6; 10:23; 2 Pet. 1:3-4)
  • Remember that God is always with you. (Matt. 28:20; Rom. 8:38-39; Heb. 13:5)
  • Return to God’s Word over and over again for the guidance you need. (Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Possible Joy

Restoration of Joy PossibleIn the midst of trials and hardships we can still have joy — purposeful joy. While it may be difficult to imagine such joy when surrounded by so much turmoil, it is possible.

If we look at Bible verses about joy, we find some tips for attaining and keeping this joy in our hearts.

Cues from Bible Verses about How Joy is Possible

Raise your level of joy in the midst of whatever you face by doing the following:

1) Accept that there’s a bigger and better picture than what’s happening in the moment.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

fixing our eyes on Jesus … For the joy set before him he endured the cross … (Heb. 12:2)

2) Focus on God’s history of faithfulness to His people … and to you.

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Ps. 126:3)

3) Bask in God’s presence.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Ps. 16:11)

4) Focus on the Lord and what He can do rather than your circumstances.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

5) Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to produce this joy in you. — That which might seem humanly impossible is possible with Him.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (Gal. 5:22)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Rom. 14:17)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

6) Pray that God would enable you to let go of that which is keeping you from His joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Ps. 51:12)

Purposeful Joy

What is purposeful joy? No, it’s not a term used in the Bible but I believe the concept is there, specifically in James 1:2-4.
Pure Joy - Purposeful Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

How is Joy Purposeful?

First, notice how we are to “consider it” joy when faced with trials. That’s a purposeful choice to let joy reign in our lives, not our circumstances.

The Greek word for “consider” (hegeomai) literally means to lead or go before, to have rule or authority over something. That means we don’t let our circumstances control us or pull us down. Instead, we choose to rise above by gaining perspective. We deem, or think about, our circumstances as joy — not just a glimmer of joy but “pure” joy. A better rendition for “pure joy” would be “all joy” as the Greek word (pas) means all, individually and collectively — complete.

Second, notice the reason for considering it joy when faced with trials. Trials have a purposeful outcome which give us a reason to grab hold of joy in adverse circumstances.

By looking at the big picture, that of the character trials build within us, we’re able to gain the perspective we need to choose joy. Persevering in hardships not only produces mature character but also leads to a sense of contentment in which we’re “complete, not lacking anything”. If we allow our circumstances to rule us, rather than considering them pure joy, we won’t arrive at this outcome.

Third, notice the expectation of life to not always be easy, filled with only “feel good” moments. “WHEN” not “IF” trials come, we can be prepared by having a purposeful plan already in place to combat human tendencies.

Jesus told us to expect problems when He said, “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33). God uses His Word to prepare us. If we’re Bible illiterate, it’s going to be difficult, in the midst of trials, to grab hold of the perspective we need to purposefully choose joy. However, when we’re familiar with verses like James 1:2-4, we will be more likely to head in the direction of joy over despair, to let joy reign in our lives rather than our circumstances. We will need purposeful joy because it won’t come naturally. In the next post we’ll look at other Bible verses that show how this kind of joy is possible!

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Bible Truths for Coming Alongside of One Another

Coming Alongside of One AnotherAs noted in the post, Can anybody be a lay counselor?, we’re all called to come alongside of one another. God’s Word provides truths for us to remember that will guide us in the process.

In addition to all the one another commands in the New Testament, we can also find many other applicable truths to apply when coming alongside of one another like the following.

Remember these Truths from the Bible When Coming Alongside of One Another

  • Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Prov. 15:22)

We are called to come along side of one another to help each other succeed in their ways, even more specifically to walk according to God’s ways. Let’s remember, however, that the ultimate counselor in a person’s life is the Spirit of God (Jn. 14:16, 26). While God will use us in one another’s lives, we should never presume to be the “fixer”, taking on a role not intended for us.

  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Prov. 9:10)

If we’re truly going to make a difference in people’s lives, we need to steer them toward God and His ways. Let’s remember the ultimate Source of wisdom, God Himself. While other sources, like the field of psychology, might offer some help, we need to run it all through the grid of Scripture.

  • And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thess. 5:14)

In coming alongside of one another, we must guard against using a one size fits all approach. What helped one person may not be the solution for the next. People encountering the same issue might need a different approach due to background, personality, level of spiritual growth, etc. We might even need to approach the same person one way one time and another the next. Let’s remember to meet people where they are.

  • Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Phil. 3:12)

Coming alongside of others can be discouraging if you lack realistic expectations. No one is perfect or will ever fully arrive. We are all a work in progress. We serve others with humility when we remember that about ourselves. We extend grace when we remember this truth about others.