“He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” – Paul in Colossians 1:28-29.
Many churches are short-sighted. Many focus entirely on the number of people they can get out to church, and not on the spiritual growth of the people sitting in the pews. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to count how many people are coming out to church. As the old axiom goes, you should “Count people, because people count.” Every person is an eternal soul, and if the number of people coming out the church is not growing, or worse is getting smaller, then there is a problem. A large Sunday morning attendance though, is only a small part of the picture.
I don’t think Christ had a large group of uncommitted undiscipled believers in mind when he pictured His church. In fact, Christ always seemed to be running the uncommitted crowd away. Yet, many churches seem content with filled pews. They seem to think God is happy with a full church, yet Paul in Colossians 1 says that ultimately that is not what we are working towards.
“So that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” That is the ultimate goal. Mature believers, that is what churches should be counting in addition to Sunday attendance. Not just how many people fill a pew, but also how many people are involved in ministry, how many people attend a small group, how many people are involved in personal evangelism, how many people are parenting their kids in a godly way, how many people are applying Biblical ethics in their marriage and their work, how many mature believers there are as a result of the church’s ministry.
It was to this end that Paul strenuously contended, and it should be the end that we work towards as well.