What Makes a Church Effective?
The reason so many churches are ineffective and/or falling apart today is because they have strayed from God’s original plan. The phenomenal strength and growth of the early church can be traced to this: the Spirit of God working through the Word of God in the hearts of the people of God.
Jesus describes that dimension of spiritual power in the opening chapter of Acts: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The effective church is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Many years ago, A.W. Tozer said, “If the Holy Spirit were taken away from the New Testament church, 90% of what they did would have come to a halt. But if the Holy Spirit were taken away from today’s church, only 10% of what it does would cease.”
We’re not seeing the same results as the early believers because we are not relying on the same power they did and we are not operating on the same principles.
The word power in Acts 1:8 comes from the Greek word dunamis, meaning dynamic power. The word witness comes from the Greek word martus, from which we get the word “martyr.” A more literal translation of that verse would be, “You shall receive dynamic power to live for Me and, if necessary, even to die for Me.”
Ten days after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit descended upon the obediently waiting disciples in the upper room (Acts 2:1–4). What difference did the empowering of the Holy Spirit make in the lives of these early believers? The same disciples who had huddled behind closed doors after Jesus’ crucifixion for fear of the Jews could not be kept behind closed doors after they had received this heavenly dynamite. After God’s power exploded in their lives, they had the courage to tell the authorities, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
The effective church preaches the gospel to all people.
A popular trend in many churches today is to build a seeker-sensitive church, tailored to the special needs of a specific group of people. Instead of being led by God, some church leaders are being led by marketing surveys that supposedly show them what type of demographic they should cater to in order to grow in attendance. This is called niche marketing. As a result, people in the church have become spectators instead of participators. Programs have taken the place of power. Gimmicks have taken the place of the gospel.
Jesus told us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). He did not say, “Go only to the people you can personally relate to” or “Go only to a particular demographic.” We should be preaching this good news to everyone: “We proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him” (Colossians 1:28 Phillips).
One of the beauties of the church is our diversity (see Galatians 3:26–28; 1 Corinthians 12:18–25). Neglecting Christ’s mandate to preach the gospel to everyone shortchanges the church and falls short of God’s objective.