Summary: The essential duties of the church
Five Marks of a Biblical Church
March 14, 2010
What makes a church great? Some churches have thousands of members; does that make them great? Some churches have doctors for pastors. Some have incredible music and worship teams. Does that make them great? Technology is the mark of some churches. They have special lighting, projectors, powerful sound systems, and so on. So, are they great?
Perhaps, instead of asking what makes a church great, the better question is what makes a church Biblical? Not all churches have all the extra stuff, but I believe every church, whether a congregation of ten or ten-thousand, can be Biblical. By default, a Biblical church is a great church.
As a side note, I think I should add that no matter how “great” a church is in size or whatever, without being Biblical there is nothing truly great. We have seen churches gather members and wealth become nothing more than a Branson-style music theater accompanied with an inspirational speech. So let’s be clear that membership, finances, and buildings have nothing to do with greatness. There are Biblical mega-churches and Biblical house-churches. Each has been given certain tools to fulfill its five-fold mission.
That’s what I want to look at with you this morning:
Five Marks of a Biblical Church
To illustrate this, I am going to use a wheel. The wheel itself represents the local church, but notice there is a hub and four spokes. This hub and these spokes represent the five characteristics of the church. A church will have a hard time being Biblical if any one of these components is missing.
Let’s start with this hub, then, and number one in your notes…
1. A Biblical Church has Christ at the Center (:42)
They were continually devoting themselves to […] prayer.
For them Christ was the hub. I like that the word “devoting” is used here. The picture is one of people who have made a commitment and they are sticking to it.
This kind of devotion brings both confidence and humility because on one hand since Christ is the hub, I’m not. Therefore, I won’t overstep my bounds, and I remember that I answer to Him. I must decrease, He must increase (Jn. 3:30). People like this don’t have unacceptable business meetings or needless complaining because they are focused on Christ as the center…when He is your focus, what is there to complain about?
On the other hand, if Christ is my hub and the hub of the church, then there is nothing we can’t do. There is great confidence in that.
Another thing this kind of devotion does is keeps us from worshiping the wrong things or people. It isn’t uncommon to find people who have the budget or the size of their church or their well-spoken and trained pastor as the hub of the church. This is dangerous because God says that He is the center of everything, and He shares His glory with no one:
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:17-18)