What is a successful congregation?

by Peyton G. Craighill

The answer to that question is clear. A successful congregation is:

  • On Sunday morning, a full church,
  • And at the end of the fiscal year, a balanced budget.

Any rector or senior warden knows that. It makes perfect business sense.

The only trouble with that answer is that it is not Christ’s answer. Why does Christ establish congregations? The answer to that question is also equally clear.

Christ’s purpose is to help him to fulfill his Great Commission that his Heavenly Father gave to him through his birth at Christmas, reinforced through his baptism in the Jordan River. After Christ’s Ascension, he was present on earth primarily through his Body, the Church. That means every one of us that shares with him in his baptism shares with him also in that Great Commission — to live out in our daily lives the Good News of the power of Christ’s love, justice, and peace.

The first answer is focused on attraction; the second on sending. The first answer says come; the second answer says go!