Summary: Five functions of a healthy church
God’s Glorious Church
How Do We Measure Our Health?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
February 27, 2005
I want to welcome each of you to our services today! One of the greatest joys and privileges we have as God’s people is to gather corporately and join in the worship and adoration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I trust that you have prepared your hearts for our time together today. We worship best together after we have spent a week in private worship through prayer and time in God’s Word, and I hope that your time here today will be an enjoyable experience, not only for you, but for the God to whom we direct our hearts and minds.
In last week’s message, I dealt with an issue that I believe is all too often neglected in our churches. How does God measure our success, and is it anything to be too concerned about? The answer was yes – God wants us to be a successful church as we fulfill our purpose of glorifying Him by carrying out our mission of reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ and laboring to see spiritual transformation take place in the lives of those who believe. God measures our success by the degree to which we are faithful in fulfilling that purpose and mission, but that success is a fleeting, moment by moment thing that is continually dependent on us remaining sensitive to what we’re really here to do.
I believe that one of the most difficult things a church can do is to take an honest inward look at itself and decide whether it is measuring up to what God expects. It is like doing exploratory surgery. As we go about our business, perhaps something raises a flag that alarms us, so we turn to the Great Physician and ask Him to examine us. He takes out the scalpel of His Word and makes some minor incisions, looking and probing for possible problems.
If you were to go to your doctor, and he told you that your body had a problem, would you take it personally? Probably not – what would be more important to you is that you enjoy the level of health you desire. What you would focus on would be the immediate problem and what it would take to correct it. Well listen, as I talk about whether our church is being successful or not, and today as I talk about measuring whether our church is healthy, there is no need to take anything personal. I am not attacking you or anyone else, nor am I attacking our church. I know some of you have been here much longer than me, but it is not just your church, it is our church. Any digging and probing that is done, and any problems that might surface will affect us all, and they are things we must all choose to address together, because what we want is to enjoy the level of health that God has in mind for us.
When we think about healthy churches, and examples of healthy churches, the Lord’s church in Acts 2 seems to stand out above others as being descriptive of how the Lord’s churches ought to be functioning. You might think again about a healthy body. Every human being has the same basic systems that must be functioning properly: the respiratory system, digestive, circulatory, nervous system, and the musculoskeletal system. If any of these systems isn’t functioning properly, then no matter what all the rest are doing, your body isn’t healthy. You can have strong bones and muscles, but if you’re not breathing, you’re in trouble!
Can you imagine one of your feet saying, “Hey! Get me some blood down here! I’m gettin’ cold! Help me out! I’m gettin’ numb and need some blood circulation!” It happens doesn’t it? But what if it happened and your hand hollered back, “Those selfish feet! Why is everything always about them? We’re getting along fine up here. They don’t know how good they’ve got it. They ought to be happy they’re part of such a good body.”
I know that sounds silly to you, but it happens every week in churches all around us, and more often than we realize, it happens right here. As we consider our text in Acts 2:37-47, I want to share with you five areas of our church life that must be functioning properly. If we are weak or lacking in any one of these five areas, then our church is not enjoying the health that God wants us to enjoy.
We exist to share the gospel with a lost and dying world! It’s the first part of our mission. No matter how well we do anything else we do, if we’re not an evangelistic church, then we’re not a healthy church. Look at our text. Beginning in verse 37, Luke wrote,