God’s answers are always simple. God’s answers always work.
At the heart of every living church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the vibrant and vital creator, the savior who is eager to improve the lives of those around Him – and who is looking for those who will be His friends, His allies, His ambassadors, His network, His hands and His feet – walking this world with Him, receiving and bringing His blessings to all they can reach. People who make this world a better place because they have lived in it. People who don’t hesitate to make the kingdoms of this world into the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.
The purpose of a church is the same as the purpose of a person – to accomplish the will of God. Not because He asks. Not because He commands. Not because we feel compelled by a sense of duty. We were created to accomplish the will of God simply because it is the path of the greatest blessings that our creator has promised to give us and that need only be accepted to be received. The fact is, God’s will provides the best possible outcome in every situation. Anything short of God’s will is short of the best. And God wishes the best for every person He creates. And so it is that God wills that we receive and rejoice in the blessings He has in store for us, not for the sake of His own glory or reputation, but because He loves us deeply, passionately, individually, and intently – and so He rejoices in our successes, happiness, peace, and contentment.
So, when it comes to churches, what is that key element that causes some to succeed where so many fail?
The answer is salvation. Successful churches are those where people find salvation – actual salvation. It’s not about doctrine. It’s not about ritual. It’s not about facilities or choice of music. It’s not about good systems or a Sunday school program. It’s about reaching into the actual lives of actual people and making them better because you were a part of them. It’s about healing the broken and the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the lonely and the imprisoned, rehabilitating the addicts and the convicts, and so much more. It’s about salvation. Not a some day, some where, theoretical or allegorical pursuit of heaven after death, but a right here, right now, unequivocal difference that occurs when someone experiences the presence and the power of God to change lives, to conquer, to overcome, to raise up, and to heal. Salvation. It’s not a theological construct. It’s lives that will never be the same again. It’s the unquestionable fact of the new life that is possible for those who are born again. And it is this vital power of the presence of God moving on, in, and through the lives of believers that makes living churches thrive.
The challenge to every church is to have the honesty, strength, and integrity to see the opportunities all around them to receive God’s blessings. “But,” you may say, “why does it take honesty, strength, and integrity to receive a blessing?” Because within every blessing is the motivation and the opportunity to understand yourself more clearly and to be a blessing to someone else more effectively.
So, when the question arises, “Should churches be market-driven?” maybe the question that should be asked instead is “Why would any church refuse to serve the markets they find themselves in?”
The purpose of the church is salvation. So let’s learn everything there is to know about the markets we serve. Let’s find the best way to reach them. Let’s take this opportunity to make the world a better place because we’ve lived. Let’s make this world into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.