Some years ago, two great pastors from our denomination conducted a survey of the twenty-five largest, fastest growing churches in our nation. These congregations were located in different areas of our country, and they were diverse in background/composition. Yet, John Bisagno notes that the researchers identified five common factors found in each church.
First, they were strongly pastorally led. This does not mean that the churches didn’t have a myriad of boards, staff, committees, and teams. They did. But the reality was that each church was led (not driven!) by a pastor who had earned the respect of the people and who set forth God-sized goals. (By the way, this finding challenged me to step up my game as your pastor! I know I have a long way to go.)
Second, they were strong Bible churches. The Scripture provided the doctrinal and ethical foundation of each church. Pastors/leaders did not question its authority but accepted its eternal truth. The Word was loved, taught, and practiced in these congregations.
Third, they had celebration worship. Bisagno describes this element: “This is not to say the Sunday services were a hootenanny or the atmosphere carnivalistic. It is to say, they were happy churches with bright, warm, friendly atmospheres. The people felt the freedom to laugh, to cry, and to respond. Remember, you can’t hatch eggs in a refrigerator. A warm, fluid service that allows for the freedom and spontaneity of the Spirit is conducive to tender response to the Spirit of God.”
Fourth, they were churches in unity. The authentic fellowship and harmony of the local church is attractive to people who are battered daily by the world. People in growing churches place “priority on their oneness in Christ” as they recognize the Psalmist’s exclamation, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony” (133:1 NLT).
Fifth, they were churches who had an indomitable spirit of conquest. They felt that God was always calling them to greater work for the Kingdom. They would not remain content. As Bisagno points out, “each pulsated with an atmosphere of more, more, more.”
As I read through these traits, I was both convicted and challenged. Certainly, Temple exhibits some of these characteristics, but as the last observation reminds us, we must not be satisfied with where we are. We must move ahead courageously and committedly in His mission and ministry. We must not stop until Christ’s fame is known in our communities, our nation, and our world! No doubt, God is moving among us right now, and we must be obedient to His call.
Let me encourage you to pray with me for the upcoming services and ministries. Ask our Lord specifically to manifest His power in our presence as we worship and serve. And join us to see what’s up! I especially hope that you will gather with us Sunday night to set aside Kenny and Michelle Robertson for vocational ministry service. I (like you) love this couple dearly; and while it is tough to lose them in our fellowship, I am convinced God has great plans for them! And we get to celebrate the “sending out” with them! See you Sunday!