Summary: What makes a church great? A church is not measured by human standards but by God’s. Ephesians 4 lists 7 keys to becoming a great church. (Message also includes 4 guidelines for our local church for 2003.)
· Winnie the Pooh is once took an evening walk with his friend Piglet. They walked for a long time in silence, but Piglet finally asked, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” Pooh responds, “And what do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today.”
Pooh’s first thoughts turn to his tummy, while Piglet imagines the possibilities that are before him; “What exciting thing is going to happen today?” I wonder, who are you more like, Pooh or Piglet?
I fear that too often we are just like Pooh. Like bears with very little brain, we concern ourselves with our own desires and needs. Our tummies want to be fed; our heads want a Tylenol to deal with the stress. With a singular focus our thoughts often turn to all the things we think we need. Instead of “In God we trust,” our national motto should be, “What’s in it for me?”
As believers we sometimes forget that God has promised to provide for everything we need (see Matthew 6:33). Instead of worrying about satisfying our tummies we should learn to be more like Piglet, “What exciting thing is going to happen today?”
Too often we’re thinking about what is needed “IN YOU,” while God imagines the great things He could do “THROUGH YOU.”
You have heard me say, “God has not put our church here to fail,” and “the best days for the church are ahead of us.” Great things are just around the corner if we get rid of the Pooh “IN YOU” mentality and start to think like Piglet. Rather than thinking about what think our church needs in order to be great, we need to imagine the great things God wants to do “THROUGH YOU” to make it happen!
Some of you will remember that last week I said beyond creation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ every miracle in the Bible involved a human agent. In other words, God doesn’t just show up on the scene and “poof” a miracle happens; God chooses to involve people in the process of a miracle. You tell me a miracle and I’ll show you someone God used to make that miracle happen.
God still works miracles in the same way today. God is looking for somebody who is willing to do or say something to make a miracle happen. Our church will only experience miracles as we cooperate with God.
In last week’s message “The State of the Church” we looked at four truths as found in Matthew 16:18. Jesus said, “This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out” (The Message). Quickly here are the four points from last week:
1. THE CHURCH IS ESTABLISHED BY JESUS. Jesus said, “I” (don’t miss the first word) “I will build my church.”
2. JESUS HAS A PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH. He said, “I WILL BUILD my church. “Will build”–the building of His Church continues today.
3. The church belongs to Jesus. He said, “I will build MY CHURCH.” None of us died for the church; Jesus let His blood be poured out to purchase the church.
4. JESUS WILL PROTECT THE CHURCH. He said, “I will build my church, and THE GATES OF HADES WILL NOT OVERCOME IT.” Not even the very gates of hell will be able to stand up against His Church; Jesus will protect His Church.
God is making us into a great church. You and I have the opportunity to be a part of the miracle that is Praise A/G. I was tempted to preach last week’s message again, but I want us to see from scripture what a great church really is. We are going to discover seven characteristics of great churches, and then we are going to again look at what it will take for us to become a great church.
Turn to Ephesians 4:11-16. Great churches are not measured by human standards. A great church is not measured by the number of people in the pews, the money in the bank, the programs offered, the building, or any other human standard you may think of. God says what makes a church great. My prayer is that Praise A/G will be a great church!
+ Ephesians 4:11-16 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV)