By Stephen R. Bradd
Dear Christian friends, this
lesson is designed to stimulate thought on an
individual and congregational level. After you
consider the following thoughts personally, I
encourage you to share them locally with your
brothers and sisters in Christ whom you worship the
Lord with and labor with in His kingdom.
What do you want this church to
be like? How do you want us to be thought of in the
community? What impression do you want our visitors
to leave with after coming our way? Most
importantly, what does God think of us, and how will
our congregation be judged eternally? As you think
about your answers, let your imagination soar for a
moment--friendliest church, most inspiring worship
assembly, best evangelistic emphasis, most
compassionate benevolence program, most peaceful
church, best taught Bible school, strongest
visitation program, most loving fellowship, best
youth program, most generous, etc. Brethren, do you
realize that the choice is yours?
Of course, I'm not talking about
what doctrine we will believe, practice, or teach.
That's already been decided for us by Christ. If we
want to be the Lord's church, then obviously we must
do what the Lord said, or we are not His church.
There is no getting around that truth, no matter
what our tolerant post-modern society may say. What
I am talking about is how we apply the teachings of
the New Testament. That's what really determines
what this congregation will be like, and that
decision is up to the membership. Allow me to
Who decides what the attendance
will be at any given assembly? The members decide!
Who decides how much will be spent on evangelism?
Someone might state, "Well, the elders decide that."
Wrong! The elders may decide where the money will
go, but the members decide how much will be spent,
because the elders can't spend what the members
won't give. What about the atmosphere of our
assemblies, who decides what it will be? Why, the
members, of course!
You can't have a friendly church
without friendly members. You can't have a loving
church without loving members. You can't have
enthusiastic worship in spirit and truth without
zealous and dedicated members. You can't have peace
in the Lord's church, unless you have brethren who
are humble peacemakers.
So, who decides whether we are a
growing, stagnant, or dying church? You know the
answer: it's the members! Oh yes, leadership plays a
major role. The Bible teaches (as well as common
sense) that the church cannot outgrow its
leadership. In other words, you can't have a growing
church with a stagnant or dead leadership. Generally
speaking, the members will not go where their
leaders will not lead. Many churches are stagnant,
dying, or dead, because their leaders offer little
or no example of real leadership for the members to
Ultimately, though, it falls on
the membership to decide whether the church grows,
dies, or maintains the status quo (which is really
just a nice way of saying "remains stagnant"). In
the case of stagnant leadership, faithful members
will kindly exhort and encourage the leaders to
boldly dream, challenge, and lead by example. In the
case of dynamic, on-fire leadership, though, if they
don't have zealous members who are willing to follow
their lead by involving themselves in the work, then
the battle is lost. The simple truth is that it
takes great leaders and great followers to build a
To a great degree the success or
failure of the local congregation is in your hands.
The local congregation, to a large extent, will be
what you choose it to be. You must decide how much
visiting will be done, how many home Bible studies
will be taught, how many folks will be invited to
attend our services, how much the gospel will be
shared in private conversations, and what kind of
influence the church will have in the community by
your own personal demeanor and example. You decide
how much money will be spent on world evangelism,
how uplifting and joyful our worship will be, and
whether or not we have peace or war in the local
- via the Lake
Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake
Hills Church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN.
Shane Robinson preaches for the congregation, and he
may be contacted through their website at