Church Leadership
“We Only Need To Be Faithful” Can Never Be An Excuse For Ineffective Ministry
If a church isn’t being effective, is it being faithful?

You don’t have to be a big church, you need to be a faithful church.”

I’ve said and written that, or some version of that, so many times I’ve lost count.

On the other hand, I’ve read and heard other Christian leaders say “it’s not enough for a church to be faithful, you have to be effective.”

And there’s a big part of me that wants to agree with them.

Effectiveness Matters

So what’s the truth? Is faithfulness enough, or do we need to be effective?

It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

Faithfulness will always include effectiveness. In fact, faithfulness demands it.

Faithful … But ...

So I stand by my statement that a church only needs to be faithful. But I’m adding a “but” to it.

“You don’t have to be a big church, you need to be a faithful church – but are you?”

“You don’t have to be a big church, you need to be a faithful church – but are you?”

Unfortunately, I’ve seen churches of all sizes use “faithfulness” as a cover for laziness, stubbornness, legalism, lack of passion and ineffectiveness. As if faithfulness was an adequate excuse for remaining static and stuck.

The truth is, we need to be effective as a church. But it’s also true that faithfulness is enough, because a faithful church will always be an effective church.

If a church isn’t being effective, it’s not being faithful.

What Faithfulness Isn’t

The other essential part of this conversation is that it matters what we’re faithful to. Because what we’re faithful to will determine how we measure our effectiveness.

  • We’re not called to be faithful to a building, a denomination, a mode of worship, or the latest trend.
  • We’re not called to measure faithfulness or effectiveness by butts in the seats or bucks in the offering.
  • We’re not called to measure faithfulness or effectiveness by comparing ourselves to another church.
  • We’re not called to measure faithfulness or effectiveness by statistical analysis.

What Faithfulness Is

We’re called to be faithful to Jesus.

Faithful to worship him. Faithful to love one another, and faithful to make disciples.

And that’s what we’re called to be effective in. Loving Jesus, loving people and making disciples.

When we’re faithful to the right things, we’ll never settle for business as usual. We won’t say “we’re just staying faithful” as an excuse for doing nothing.

If you are being faithful, you will be effective. That may not result in the numerical increase you expected faithfulness to bring. But that’s okay.

A faithful church is an effective church. And that kind of faithfulness is always enough.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Join in the conversation about this post on Facebook.

Recent Posts

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters

More Newsletters ...