Our Church Needs a Checkup!
Let me ask you a serious question. If someone asks you what a healthy church looks like what do you describe? Do you describe a church that is relevant with a worship band and people wearing designer jeans, haircuts, and shirts offering a designer Christ. Perhaps you describe a church that appears to be one that serves the community with all sorts of programs that help the needy or in a needful way. Maybe you describe a something for everybody church that has a program for every group and a ministry for every interest. You may even describe a church that is on fire for evangelism, knocking on doors and doing evangelism. Would any of us describe our church? Most likely if the above things are our focus we do not look or even hope that our church can be so described.
Maybe we decide we must go to the churches of the first century for a model healthy church. Jerusalem had a great core group of believers until the Romans destroyed them in 70 AD. Antioch was a mission minded church, but faded into the background. Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium were faithful but not very large. Corinth had a mess of problem. Ephesus had all the right ingredients, but lacked the staying power along with several other sister churches mentioned in Revelation. Philippi is a good candidate if everyone could just get along. Thessalonica had great fellowship but forgot about hard work. The list could go on but I doubt if we will find a suitable model for a healthy church to follow. If we can’t look at any of those first churches where do we look? Here’s the point of this discussion. We must look to what God taught each of these churches through his Word to reform them towards his liking. In other words we let God tell us what a healthy church looks like by studying what he says about churches in the Bible.
Let me warn you though, there are parts of what he describes as a healthy church that will offend our sensibilities. Why? When we realize we don’t practice church that way we can easily become stiff-necked instead of confessing our sin and conforming to God’s design. After all if this is Christ’s design for HIS healthy church then regardless of whether we like it, shouldn’t we follow it? As we continue our series in Matthew’s gospel on Sunday morning we will be confronted with Jesus’ words concerning what a healthy church looks like. On Sunday nights beginning in January we will begin a study based out of a mini-book What is a Healthy Church? From 9Marks. This mini-book presents nine areas that the New Testament speaks directly towards in relation to a healthy church. In our Wednesday night study we will be continuing our discussion of our Church Covenant.
This year I am praying that our church would increasingly heed what God has revealed a healthy church to be in His Word. Let me ward you again, this will not always be comfortable or easy and will require us to give up many unbiblical practices we have held. But it will be rewarding to know that our church is Healthy according to the Savior’s standard! To this end could I ask a favor of you? I would like to ask that you make two resolutions. First, would you read the passage I am preaching from as a part of your devotion the week before it is preached? I plan to begin posting the next week’s passage in the bulletin on a weekly basis. Second, I encourage you to attend on Sunday nights or Wednesday nights ready to DISCUSS what the Bible reveals a healthy church to be. I hope to offer you a discussion guide to take home in both of these services.