Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spiritually Changed Lives

One major fact we cannot deny is that we cannot choose how God will work. It is not our will that He carries out, but quite the opposite. If this is true, then the only way the Holy Spirit can truly be the power source of the church is when we step back on the day’s program, and invite Him to come among us and do His will. Isn’t this what we truly want?

So then, a healthy church is identified by current examples of lives being changed. Only the Spirit of God brings about true change, so if change is happening, the Spirit must be moving. And, if the Spirit is moving, we can assume He is pleased with our body of believers, and is free to work among us.

The truth of scripture is spiritually discerned, and discernment brings wisdom and change. What a testimony of spiritual health to see lives changed!

What the should we watch for? We should expect the alcoholic to be set free from addiction. The one who is drawn to pornography should suddenly find the strength to dispose of this habit. The marriage that is in ruins can be restored, if both sides are in a true relationship with Christ. Victims will become overcomers. The heart of the greedy will become generous and giving. The trouble-maker will become the peace-maker. The desires of our hearts will become the desires of God's heart.

These are the changes that a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ will bring, because He gives us His Spirit to dwell in us.

"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." - Rom. 8:9

"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." - Rom. 8:12-14

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Healthy Church

As a minister, I am often asked how I would define a "successful church". The current trend is moving from judging by attendance numbers to reflecting on the health of the church. I support this transition of the standard by which churches are measured, but I also know that different people will have different ideas of what a "Healthy Church" looks like.

So, I am going to throw in my two cents about how I believe the health of a church can be somewhat defined. Some of these items are measurable, others are much more abstract and will probably only be completely known in eternity. As much as I can, I want to stick to the measurable things that will let my church judge how spiritually healthy we are.

  1. A Healthy Church Manifests the Work of the Holy Spirit.
    1. Lives Changing
    1. Spiritual Gifts Being Used By the Entire Body
    1. Supernatural Activity
  1. A Healthy Church Knows Why it Exists.
    1. A Clear Understanding of the Scriptural Purpose for the Church.
    1. A Clear Plan of Action to Fulfill Our Purpose.
    1. A United Heart of Passion to Carry Out Our Purpose.
  1. A Healthy Church Is Grounded in Scriptural Truth.
    1. A Definite Contextual Proof of Purpose.
    1. A Willingness and Passion to Study and Know the Scriptures.
    1. Scripturally Solid Teachers With God’s Agenda at Heart.
  1. A Healthy Church Lives Outside As They Do Inside the Church Building.
    1. A Heart of Compassion for the Community
    1. A Positive Reputation Among the Community
    1. A Solid Discipleship Training That Changes Lives and Lifestyles
This is a spring board for the coming writings over the next few weeks. I want to take this list point-by-point and give deeper insight into what I am claiming here, and why. As always, I will appreciate any constructive input any of you may have.