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The Measure of a Church
June 9, 2015


Dave Campbell

“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod.  And the angel stood, saying,  ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar and those who worship there.’”   Revelation 11:1

One of the most difficult tasks that pastors and leaders must undertake is evaluating the ministry of their church.  How do we measure it?  To what do we compare our church?  How do we know if we are successful or effective or maybe even out in left field somewhere?  It would be interesting to know what might be a reasonable criterion for measuring how well the church is doing.  The quest to find the answers to these questions drives conscientious pastors to read every book on church growth and attend every leadership conference imaginable.  We can tie ourselves in knots studying all the stats, reports, trends and methods. We can easily become ecclesiastical naval-gazers. You’ve heard of the guy who climbed the ladder of success only to find that the ladder was up against the wrong wall?  The same thing can happen to church leaders.  So what standards of comparison do we use to measure our ministries?  Is it our Sunday attendance?  Does it have something to do with our ministry emphasis or our worship style?  Traditional?  Anti-traditional?  If we use state of the art technology and manage to keep up with leading edge trends and fads, does that mean we’re measuring up?  Is it the church’s commitment to missions, or how often we observe the Lord’s Table?  Is it the financial statement we are all so familiar with at the annual business meeting?  Could it have something to do with the programs we have in place or our attempts to mentor leaders?  Is it our mission statement?  Our constitution?  Policy statements?  Certainly all these elements are extremely important to the life of a church, but are they the measuring stick God intends us to use as we evaluate our church’s ministry? 

Using the wrong measure can be disastrous!  You may remember the story of the Air Canada flight 143 which ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet, half way between Montreal and Edmonton.  It was only because of the quick thinking and exceptional skills of the flight crew that they were able to land the 767 jet at an abandoned air field at Gimili, Manitoba.  It was determined that fuel loading was miscalculated due to a lack of understanding of the metric system.  The wrong measure was used and it almost resulted in a catastrophe.

We need to be aware of how God measures His work. We don’t want to make any mistakes here by walking around with the wrong ruler in our hand!  The Apostle John was instructed to take a reed or measuring rod to measure the temple of God and the altar and the people.  I have come to believe that the measuring rod represents the Word of God.  Are we on track or are we off the rails?  Only God’s Word can measure that.

The church of Ephesus seemed to have it all together.  According to Revelation 2:1-7, this church had great workers, faithful endurance and doctrinal integrity.  They wouldn’t put up with any nonsense either, especially when it came to false prophets and bogus teachers.   To the average onlooker, the Ephesus church was a model church.  They had programs, people and principles!  Any pastor would be proud to lead such a church.  Yet once the measuring stick of God’s Word was applied, they discovered that they were sorely lacking in that glorious first love.  Indeed, all seven of the completely different churches listed in the second and third chapters of Revelation were measured by the same standard, the Living Word, followed by the exhortation: “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

As a pastor or ministry leader tries to evaluate the church’s progress, or the people’s spiritual growth, or his own life along with his vision, his focus or how he views himself, The Word of God is the gold standard of measure. Paul said that comparing ourselves with ourselves is not wise.  We may learn a lot by viewing how other people do church, but the only measuring stick that matters is The Bible.  So we should ask ourselves some tough questions:

Are we adhering to God’s Word?  Is the Bible central in our church’s teaching and preaching?  Is the church’s “structure” biblically sound?  Do our leaders measure up to biblical qualifications? Are all of our decisions and resolutions put to the test of Scripture?  Are we willing individually and corporately to make any adjustments necessary to line up with the Word of God? We need to ask these questions in the presence of the Lord and then with an ear to hear, pause to listen to what the Spirit says to the church.

Filed under: From the Pastor's Desk


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