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If numbers are the success yardstick, Twitter definitely measures up. (For those who still think that I was talking about stereo speakers, Twitter is actually a social networking website where users can send 140-character ‘tweets’ or messages to his network of friends.) Since its 2006 launch, it skyrocketed to 160 million plus users. What caught my attention while reading a news item about Twitter is this statement by its co-founder, Evan Williams: “Growing big is not success, in itself. Success to us means meeting our potential as a profitable company that can retain its culture and user focus while having a positive impact on the world.” (Source: Inquirer.Net) That’s a great definition of success.
I think pastors and churches ought to learn from it. Of course, numbers matter to God, too. (There’s a book in the Bible with that title. Also, just read the book of Acts.) Yet, to borrow from the title of a book by Ruth Tucker, when we feel “left behind in a mega-church world,” we tend to confuse the way we measure success. The key to clear the confusion is to concentrate on our potential as a church. To know our potential, we must ask first, “What is our bottom line?” Companies like Twitter have profit and numerical growth as one of its bottom-line. But the church’s bottom-line is not the ABCs that we tend to use nowadays to declare that a church is successful. (ABC stands for Attendance, Buildings and Cash. Others have added D, that is, Denomination).
Our bottom-line is the glory of God. Ephesians 3:20-21 tell us, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV) We exist as a church to bring honor to the Lord.In his “Rise and Shine,” Dr. Charles Swindoll wrote, “When we finally wake up to our purpose for existence, we come to the realization that glorifying God applies to every detail of living… The activity, as well as the motive behind it, must be for one ultimate reason: to glorify our God.” First Corinthians 10:30 commands us, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So, whatever we do as a church, we must do it for the sake of the reputation of the Lord, not ours. When we exalt the Lord in all that we are and all that we do, then we are really successful.
Brethren, “Glory to God in the church!” (Eph. 3:21a, Message)