The recent pandemic has drastically changed the way we function as the body of believers. In a healthy church the basics remain intact. The church in Antioch is a model example
The Antioch church, composed of many small house churches, was strong and active. New believers started it after Pentecost (Acts 2). Stephen’s martyrdom and the onslaught of persecution caused many new Christians to move from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 11:19-21). They demonstrate important lessons in growing a healthy church.
First, we see a focus on grace (Acts 11:22-24). God’s grace was evident to all the Christians. The church loved and accepted readily. They generously gave to those in need (Acts 11:27-30). Christians from both Jewish and gentile backgrounds worshipped together. Rich and poor, young and old sat side by side. Believers were first called “Christians” in this church (Acts 11:26). They acted like Jesus so their unbelieving neighbors labeled them in mockery. They responded to insults with grace and love.
A second mark of a healthy church is a focus on God’s Word (Acts 11:25-26). The leaders emphasized teaching God’s Word and evaluated all they believed and did through the lens of the Word. Paul was one of their teachers communicating God’s truth. A deep understanding and respect for God’s Word is essential for a healthy church.
Next, they saw the importance of training people in how to apply the Word in daily life and in ministry (Acts 11:25-26). Barnabas actively trained others, including Paul. The people were called “disciples” because they were committed followers of Jesus.
Healthy churches pray, worship, fast and listen obediently to the Spirit’s voice. In Acts 13:2-3 the Christians “were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” This was an important part of the early church (Acts 2:42). Healthy churches pray and listen obediently to the Spirit’s voice.
Finally, this church had a desire to reach others (Acts 13:2-3). They sent their two best men, Paul and Barnabas, on the First Missionary Journey. The church heard reports of their travels (Acts 14:26-28) and sent them out again on the Second and Third Missionary Journeys. A desire to share God’s truth and grace characterizes a Godly church.
The world needs healthy churches today more than ever. What can you to do help your church be the kind of church God that glorifies and brings honor to Him.
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Does your church: 1) focus on grace, 2) communicate God’s Word, 3) train believers, 4) pray 5) reach out with the gospel?
Do you do encourage and participate in these areas?
(For more on “What God Expects of Churches,” go to Https://www.christiantrainingonline.org/our-ministries/india/ and click on “Download Books.” )
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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