From the world’s point of view, a strong church is measured by the size of its building, location, technology, the number of classes it offers and what kind of classes they are. Basically, “What does that church offer me?” In the New Testament, there were many good, strong congregations. But there were some that were not what they should have been (Revelation 2-3). Congregations come in all shapes and sizes; each one is different. However, there are several elements that strong churches have in common.
Functions like a “body”: The church is the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:27), but not all members have the same function (Rom. 12:4). Every member of the body of Christ is valuable; everybody is somebody in the Kingdom. You have talents and gifts that can be a benefit to the congregation. Every member must appreciate his or her own function in the body of Christ, as well as appreciate the function of others (I Cor. 12:12-26). And when does growth occur? When “every part does its share” (Eph. 4:16). Are you doing your share?
Loves like a family: The church is the family of God. Do we think of each other as family? A strong family is one where there is concern, care and love for one another (I Thess. 4:9-10; II Thess. 1:3). But to develop a strong family, it takes time and work. It takes a willingness to get to know one another and to take advantage of opportunities to spend time together. In Acts 2:42, we read of a group of Christians sharing a common goal, bond, love and life. They were invested in the spiritual welfare of one another.
Concerned for the lost: A strong church is a church where every Christian wants to see the church grow and do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. Churches must be involved: preaching/teaching; gospel meetings; website; social media; podcasts; etc. Members must be encouraged to put forth individual efforts to let their light shine and share with the lost the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But let us also be aware of signs of a dying church. To the church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1), Jesus said, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Warning signs include attendance issues (Heb. 10:23-25); lack of concern for those who miss regularly (Gal. 6:1); life’s cares taking precedent (Luke 8:14); and lack of discipline (I Cor. 5:6).
Bottom line: Churches, too, must examine themselves and make corrections where needed (II Cor. 13:5). And it all starts with having an appetite for the Word of God. In Acts 2:42, the early Christians were described as continuing “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.” They were devoted to the Word of God, and to the Word of God only.