What Really Makes a Church Great?

Is a great church one that does great things like have excellent programs, preaching or praying?  Is it great because of its size?  I don’t think so.

Ed Stetzer’s and Thom Rainer’s book Transformational Church reminds me of some things I already knew but haven’t talked about in a while.  A great church is one in which LIFE CHANGE is happening at the individual and corporate level.  How does a church begin to do that?

  1. They must rely more on God’s empowered mission and biblical mandate than the personal preferences of the congregation.  Sadly, Christians are often more in love with the way they do church than they are in love with people in their community.  The church must develop a “missionary mentality.”  That means that the church understands the community and will minister in contextually appropriate ways to reach local people with the gospel.  Moving to an external focus pushes the church from “doing missions” as part of some program into being “on mission as a way of life.”
  2. Vibrant leadership.  Change starts with the leaders of the church.  Vibrant leaders lead their people to worship, live in community, and live on mission.  They are leaders who are being transformed in the presence of the people they lead.  When the church assumes the role of missionary, a radical shift in the view of leadership must take place.  The old model was to hoard and retain control. Vibrant leaders seek to empower and multiply.  Leadership is the stewardship to help others exercise their gifts.  We must move away from “How may I serve you?” to “How can I help you serve?”
  3. Relational intentionality.  The church was designed by Christ as a collection of people participating in one another’s lives.  So the church must provide platforms for new people to engage in significant relationships with one another and with people in need.  A challenge today is that most people find themselves too busy.  So we must teach people how to create relational space.  But first we’ll have to teach why.  Another challenge is to produce familial relationships without creating a closed group.  This includes providing space for difficult people.
  4. Prayerful dependence.  Prayer is the engine of truly great churches.  Characteristics of praying churches?  They have praying leaders.  They commonly experience answers to prayer.  They value corporate prayer.  They engage their communities with prayer.
  5. A sense of anticipation and expectancy surrounds their worship services. While they may count attendance, a better barometer is how many encountered the transforming presence of God through worship.  This means that people have to actively participating in worship, not just listening to a talking head or following along in their bulletin.

Is there anything you would add or subtract from this list?  How have you seen these in your church?


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