OceanSide church of Christ
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WHAT MAKES A GREAT CHURCH?
Victor M. Eskew
A. If I am going to be part of something, I want to be part of something great (i.e., ball team, business, nation).
B. In like manner, if I am going to be part of a local church, I want to be part of a “great church.”
1. This is probably the feeling that most have.
2. The question, however, is: “What makes a great church?”
C. The answers to this question might sound something like this.
1. Many members
2. A large contribution
3. Numerous programs to meet people’s needs
4. A lovely building located in a strategic part of the city
D. This morning let’s answer the question: “What Makes A Great Church?” The answers that are given might surprise some.
I. NOT A RECORD ATTENDANCE – BUT HAVING GOD’S PRESENCE
A. Many individuals are impressed with large numbers.
1. If thousands are present, many believe that a church is doing something right.
2. Many want to be able to brag that they are associated with the multitudes.
3. Having a large number of people present does not ensure that God’s presence is there.
B. A great church makes certain that God is with them.
1. The key to God’s presence being with us involves proper doctrine.
a. II John 9
Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
b. John 14:23
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
2. If God’s presence is with us, numbers are not important.
a. Moses’ words to Israel (Deut. 7:7).
The Lord did not set his love upon you, or choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.
b. The words of Jonathan to his armor-bearer (I Sam. 14:6)
And Jonathan said to the young man that bear his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
II. NOT BY A LARGE BUILDING – BUT BY COURAGEOUS LEADERS
A. Big buildings and big organizations are not the cause of something great.
B. Greatness begins with leadership.
1. No organization will rise above its leadership.
2. God did not leave His church without leaders. The leaders of the local congregation are the elders (I Pet. 5:1-2).
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.
C. These leaders must be courageous.
1. The courage to implement God’s will.
2. The courage to make decisions.
3. The courage to confront the enemy.
4. The courage to correct the erring.
5. The courage to admit shortcomings and sin.
D. Joshua was one of the greatest leaders of the Old Testament. He led the children of Israel as they conquered the Promised Land.
1. Twice Moses exhorted Joshua to be strong and of a good courage (Deut. 31:7, 23).
2. Two times Joshua was told by God to be strong and of a good courage (Josh. 1:6, 9).
3. Once the children of Israel encouraged their new leader to be strong and of a good courage (Josh. 1:18).
4. Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.
III. NOT TALL STEEPLES – BUT LOFTY VISIONS
A. A vision involves the stated aims and objectives of the church.
1. It has been said: “Aim at nothing; hit nothing.”
2. NOTE: Our ultimate vision is set forth in the pages of the New Testament.
a. Conversion of the lost
b. Edification of the church
B. The local congregation’s challenge is the “how to” of the NT goals.
1. How are we going to reach the lost with the gospel, edify the church, and do benevolence?
2. Sometimes the how comes as a reaction to a problem (Acts 6:1-7).
3. It is better, however, to develop the “how’s” first, then communicate them to the church and strive to reach the goals.
C. When churches set lofty goals, they are following in the footsteps of the Almighty God (I Pet. 1:18-20).
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
IV. NOT ELOQUENT PREACHERS – BUT ACTIVE MEMBERS
A. The denominational world refers to the preacher as “the pastor” meaning “the shepherd,” or, they call him “the parson” which is interpreted “the man.”
1. We hear of John Hagee’s church.
2. We hear of Joel Osteen’s church.
3. We hear of Toby Martin’s church.
4. We hear of Stoval Weem’s church.
B. The churches of Christ have rejected the pastor system of denominationalism and the use of titles, but we still feel that the main way to grow a great church is to have an eloquent preacher (i.e., sound, young- under 60, family man, good presentation, a mixer).
C. The greatness of a church is not tied to the preacher. Greatness comes through active members of the body of Christ.
1. The body of Christ does not consist of one member.
a. I Corinthians 12:14
For the body is not one member, but many.
b. I Corinthians 12:19
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
2. Example: East Main church of Christ, Murfreesboro, TN, Wayne Lankford is the minister.
a. He is the only paid minister on the staff.
b. They do not have a youth minister. The members of the church handle all the events of the church.
c. Let me read to you their March, 2013 events:
3rd Fellowship meal following the PM service in the annex
4th Bible Bowl Competition
7th College Devo – 7 pm Mark and Debbie’s house
8th Scrapbooking – 6 pm in annex
10th Youth devos
14th Teen girl’s devo – 6-8 pm Devin’s house
15th-17th Young Couples Retreat in Chattanooga
20th Blue Radar Filling Station – College
21st College Devo – 7 pm Lankford house
22nd Young at Heart
23rd Teen devo – 6 pm Hayes’ house
28th Young Professionals Devo – 7 pm Holder’s house
29th High School Banquet – Kulp/Moss/Weeks
31st Fifth Sunday
D. Paul’s words to Titus (Tit. 3:8)
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
V. NOT BEAUTIFUL CLOTHES – BUT BEAUTIFUL LIVES
A. There two extremes that can be taken about clothing.
1. No rules. Come as you are. Immodest and disrespectful attire.
2. To strict. The most beautiful.
B. We can be all “prettied up” on the outside and still ugly on the inside (Matt. 23:28).
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
C. We need to live beautiful lives.
1. Beautiful lives cause others to glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
2. Beautiful lives give assistance to the needs of others (Acts 9:36).
3. Beautiful lives win the souls of the lost (I Pet. 3:1-2).
4. Beautiful lives cause the wicked to be ashamed for falsely accusing our good communication in Christ (I Pet. 3:16).
5. Beautiful lives cause others to rise and call us blessed (Prov. 31:28).
VI. NOT GREAT EMOTIONALISM – BUT GREAT LOVE AMONG MEMBERS
A. Some seem to believe that church is all about positive, up-lifting, warm feelings. In essence, they believe that great churches make us feel good.
B. Great churches do not need huge doses of emotionalism. They need members who show great love one toward another.
1. This love seeks the best interest of others (I Cor. 13:5).
Charity…seekth not her own…
2. This love is willing to sacrifice for others (II Cor. 12:15).
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
3. It is a love that is reciprocal. It is practiced back and forth among members.
a. At least 17 times in the New Testament, we read the phrase: “love one another.”
b. John 15:12
This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.
c. I John 3:11
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
A. If I’m going to be a member of something, I want to be part of something great.
B. To be a great church, we need:
1. God’s presence
2. Courageous leaders
3. Lofty visions
4. Active members
5. Beautiful lives
6. Love among members
C. Not only do I want to be part of something great, I want to work as hard as I can to make it great.