Summary: What does it take to make a church a great church?
The Church. The Church. When I say church, what do you think of? A little white clapboard building with a steeple and a bell, or perhaps the Crystal Cathedral in California. Maybe you don’t think of a building instead you think of people, perhaps your friends and fellow believers at BCC come to mind, if so that is good. Church means many different things to many different people. Some people feel warm and fuzzy inside when you mention church, other’s get angry. But the reality is that if you are a believer, a Christ Follower then you have no doubt had some experience with a church.
As we move ahead with the Building on Faith campaign the emphasis is on building a church a permanent building where the church can meet. We have to be careful though that we don’t become so busy building a church that we neglect to build the church. In two weeks time I’m going to be preaching on building a church, and expounding a little more on what our dream and vision is for our new church home and what we hope to accomplish with it. This morning though I want to look a little bit about building the Church, that is the body of believers that we call Bedford Community Church. So let’s start by defining what Church means. In the New Testament, the word that was used was a Greek word, which makes a lot of sense considering the New Testament was written in Greek. And the word was ekklesia, From ek ’out of’ and kaleo ’call’ thus they were the called out ones. And although that word wasn’t used exclusively to mean Church it was the word used to describe the Church. The English word Church has it’s roots in a different word that literally meant “Of the Lord.”
A.W. Tozer said One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.
In the scripture that Ruth read for us earlier, Jesus said “I will build my Church.” And Jesus does that, he builds the church but in building the church he needs our help, or at least he doesn’t need our hindrance and throughout the New Testament there are suggestions of ways we can help to make the church everything that it ought to be. I truly believe that we are a part of a good church, but I ask myself; what would it take to be a part of a great church? A church that had an impact on it’s entire community and the lives of the people in that community. A church that makes a difference not just for the here and now but for the there and then. A church that has an eternal impact and makes an eternal difference. So I began looking through the New Testament to find out what it takes to make a church a great church, and this is what I found.
Matthew 16:18 Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. Did you catch that? Jesus said “I will build my church.” 1) A Great Church Will be A Christ Following Church. That seems almost self-evident but I’m not sure that it is. Notice that I didn’t say a Great Church will be a Christian Church. The reason is that I don’t think that every church that calls itself a Christian church is a Christ following church or for that matter a Christian Church. What makes a church a Christian Church? Historically they were churches that fell in line with the Apostle’s Creed. What is the Apostle’s Creed, glad you asked. Let’s read it together.
The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Church Universal
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
So there are some essentials in there that make a church a Christian Church. Belief in God and the divinity of Jesus Christ, in the Trinity, in the virgin birth of Christ, of his death and resurrection and the reality of heaven and hell. And if a church doesn’t believe in those things then historically and in my view they are not Christ Following Churches.