Summary: If God’s people are growing in spiritual health, then His church will be a healthy church.
How to Be a Healthy Church
Intro: How many here like to be healthy? Most of us do. We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we like to feel that we’re running on all cylinders. Whether you’re a 2-stroke, 4-banger, slant-6, or a V-8, we all like to be at full power. Nobody likes to be sickly or weak, or rundown.
-Well, God wants His church to be healthy as well. There are a lot of things that go into the making of a healthy church. The biggest factor is that we recognize that Christ is the head of the church and that we all submit ourselves to Him.
-Now in our text, Paul is meeting with the leaders from the Ephesian church, and he is giving them what he believes are his last words to them. As it turns out, Paul is actually able to visit them again later, but he did not think he would ever see them again when he met with them in Acts 20.
-So Paul gives them his best advice on how to be a healthy church. I think it would benefit us to pay heed to these words of Paul and see how they might apply to our church as a whole, as well as to each of us as individuals.
Prop: If God’s people are growing in spiritual health, then His church will be a healthy church.
Interrogative: How then, can we keep growing in our spiritual health?
TS: Let’s look at a few sound words of advice from the Apostle Paul.
I. Watch Out! (Acts 20:28-31)
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
A. Watch yourselves- (leaders and followers) Leaders need to watch over one another. This is one reason there have been so many moral failures and scandals amongst pastors and other Christian leaders. Some leaders won’t let anyone close enough or give them permission to watch over them. Sometimes, everyone is just so busy with their own lives and pursuits that they don’t have the time or awareness to watch over anyone else – they have a hard enough time keeping themselves on track.
-Now, lest you think that this is only about Pastors or official leaders, let me say that we all need to watch ourselves. We are all leaders or influencers simply by reason of our faith. People will look at our lives and either take their cues from us as to what God is like. We must watch ourselves because others are watching us, and because it helps keep us right with God.
B. Watch over others (like shepherds watch over sheep) This has to do with people who are leaders within the church watching over the flock (and remember, every Christian is a leader in some way). As a parent, have you ever asked an older sibling to watch over a younger sibling? Sometimes it turns out badly, but it can help teach the older sibling to be responsible for someone other than himself or herself. And sometimes, the younger sibling watches over the older in that everything gets back to Mom and Dad. We are all accountable to each other and to God. So, we need to watch each other’s backs and help others see danger before it harms them. We need to keep encouraging one another so that we will all keep growing. You might say that encouragement is the sunshine that causes a garden to grow. All water and no sunshine makes for a dismal garden. We need to help provide the warmth and light of encouragement to one another as we watch over ourselves and those around us. Help meet needs, help encourage, help teach and train others. This really boils down to discipleship, fellowship, and ministry to one another. A 3rd thing to remember as we watch over ourselves & others…
C. Remember whose church it is – V.28 says that Jesus bought the church with His own blood. It belongs to Him! Jesus told Peter in Matt. 16 that He would build His church. He would not build it on Peter, but upon Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of the living God!
-Every believer you see around you in this community belongs to God. So think twice next time you get mad and say something bad about the Lord’s wife! We are all part of the Bride of Christ, from the youngest to the oldest. It is not so important that I get my way, but that Jesus has His way in His church. Ask the Lord, “How can I be a part of what You are doing in Your Church?” He will help you fit in right where He wants you – right where you belong.