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Summary: In this message discover 7 characteristics of healthy churches.

The State of the Church 2005 (part2)

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On New Year’s Eve, 2004 moved forever into the history books and 2005 opened with the days as blank pages to be written; however more changed than just the date on the calendar. Since 1972 millions of people would join one of Americas biggest New Year’s Eve parties with Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. At 75 Dick Clark with his youthful appearance was known as “America’s Oldest Teenager.” However, on December 8, 2004 Clark suffered a stroke preventing him from hosting the 2004 broadcast. Regis Philbin took Clarks place in New York City to host the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and for the first time in thirty-two years America watched the ball drop in Times Square without Dick Clark.

Good health today may be here today and gone tomorrow. Dick Clark started his day December 8th like any other day, but before the day was over things changed. In addition to his stroke we were also told that Clark also had type 2 diabetes. “America’s Oldest Teenager” suddenly didn’t seem so young anymore.

Health is not an absolute. In the same way our physical health can be transformed due to an unforeseen heart attack, stroke, disease or accident, the health of the local church can change too. Just because a church is healthy today doesn’t mean it will still be healthy tomorrow. Now on the flip side of the coin is also true—just because a church may be unhealthy today doesn’t mean it will stay that way; health can also be restored. (Who knows Dick Clark may even come back to host New Year’s Rockin’ Eve next December!)

This morning we are going to return again to “The State of The Church.” How healthy is Praise Assembly of God? Praise the Lord, I believe we are a healthy church. Let’s look at seven characteristics of healthy churches as we look at Ephesians 4:11-16 to see just how healthy we are and discover how we can maintain and improve our health.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV)

[11] It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, [12] to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up [13] until 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. [14] Then 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. [15] Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. [16] From 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.

1. Healthy Churches Involve Lots of Different People (verse 11, 12a).

Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

[11] He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. [12] Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work.

Take a look at the people around you and what do you notice? Everyone is different. No one is a clone of another. We can all say of one another, “When you were born, they broke the mold.” We are all unique—no two individuals are the same.

Within the church God takes all kinds of different people and uses them in different ways. Some people are used as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and yet even those who are called to similar ministries are still unique.

But don’t stop and think you have been left out because you are not “in the ministry!” Yes, God has set some people apart as “gifts to the church;” some people are used in special ministries as apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors and teachers. However, the work of healthy churches cannot be done just through those in what we call fulltime or professional ministry positions. Pastor Sue and I cannot make Praise A/G a great church.

The “SOME” are used to equip the “ALL.” God wants to use you also. You don’t have to be “in the ministry” to be a minister used by God within His Church. The Lord wants to use lots of different people in lots of different ways.

The Bible teaches that we are ALL priests or ministers for God. God wants to include all of us in the work of the Church.

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