The Church Today
The church has always been an important part of our lives together. Unfortunately, the church as it is known and expressed today is a far cry from the church that Jesus established. Nonetheless, being an active member of a local church is one of the social institutions which develops long-term stability for family life. What church to become involved in is very important. So, to begin with, herewith is the primary characteristics to look for in a local church, recognizing that no perfect church exists.
First, a local church, even a house church, should have a recognized leadership. The Word of God establishes that His church was built on the apostles and the prophets, that is , the church was founded on solid government (apostles) and prophetic insight. Working in most local settings is a pastor/teacher, or perhaps an evangelist, necessary gifts to the church, but inadequate to establish a church long-term. The church with only tradition and no vision will not progress. However, the church with all vision but no positive and progressive structure will be exciting but never fulfill its’ purpose. A balance in the two are needed. Účetnictví Look for a church with good leadership, strength and stability, and yet with prophetic insight as demonstrated by evangelism and strong worship.
This leads to the second major requirement of a strong and healthy church, evangelism and discipleship. A local church which is growing by the addition of new converts on a regular basis is important for a number of reasons. First, with the influx of new Christians, the great commission of the Lord is being fulfilled in the local setting. Secondly, where there are new converts, and especially when there is follow-up discipleship, there is less focus on the petty needs and politics of church life (and haven’t we all seen enough of that). New converts lead to other member involvement (hopefully), rather than personal preoccupation. Discipleship includes providing for the needs of the wounded who enter the church. As is clearly seen today, people who enter the church do so do to meet personal needs, resolve conflicts, provide structure and support for themselves and their families. A church who has the ability and burden to assist with the needs of the walking wounded is a blessing. Be careful of churches who major in only one area of ministry (deliverance, counseling, teaching, worship, evangelism). Ministry must be made available for the whole family, from birth to grave, though the sophistication of the programs are less important than the quality of love and nurture as expressed from the pulpit, in the Sunday school class and through the membership at large.
Third, a charismatic church is preferable to a non- charismatic one, yet more important than the level of singing and worship, the expression of the gifts of the Spirit, or the oratorical gifts of the preacher, is the sound emphasis on the word of God. It is God’s word that transforms us, when applied to our lives in obedience. Having an “anointed” worship leader and preacher is a great bonus, and highly recommended if available, but integrity in the ministry and solid structure to the local church is needed for the long haul. Yet the church is more than the pastor (thank God!). It is far more than the name on the door, and is infinitely necessary for quality living in this sin sick world.
Most important, our spiritual growth is predicated on faithfulness and obedience. From the beginning, the lives of the saints of God have been measured by the faithfulness of His people to follow the word of God. The bible states that we are not to forsake the gathering together of the saints. It is so easy, when one has been wounded by church leaders who were trusted, to avoid the church because of it. However, that never accomplishes growth. One never grows through the safe path, but through the rough and tumble of interaction with other “crazy and wounded” in the local church, His children learn to live in loving and supportive relationship.
My hope is that you will never give up on the local church. It is God’s divine instrument for our growth and strength, support and service.
— Dr. Stan DeKoven, President, Vision International College & University