The word ‘church’ in most people’s minds will conjure up images of steeples, cemeteries, gargoyles, and – dare I say it – retried people! But we all know that this, although classed as church, is not really the church that Jesus had in mind. As I am involved in our own church and helping pastors and leaders with their churches, I often find myself asking the question: “Are we building the church that Jesus had in mind?” Matthew 16:18 says, “I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”.
Today’s generation (and this has nothing to do with age) need to be ‘church minded’ over ministry driven. The failures we have seen in the past 10 years have been mostly with those leaders who are outside of church and more into ‘ministry’ or the ‘spectacular’. The ministries I talk about operate in either prophecy, teaching, preaching, and some even call themselves apostles! These are all just gifts, and have nothing to do with character or integrity. In Paul’s mind these gifts, although legitimate, are to be used within the church where accountability to the body is practised and seen. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:28: “Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.”
As we build His church we need to teach a detachment from any commitments outside of the local church. The bottom line is that church is God’s plan; to be outside of church is to be outside of God’s plan! Church is God’s instrument of change on the earth and when we get a revelation of this we will see a powerful and effective church, without the need for para-church activities or ministries.
Church minded people are those who move into a greater level of commitment to the local church than those who attend but focus on ministries and events.
- They are committed to attend all meetings and don’t give weak excuses as to why they cannot make church.
- They are committed to their local church over the big names and superstars of the Christian world.
- They show their commitment by a lifestyle of generosity to the church, giving of all they have with joy and liberality.
- They are conscious of their behaviour and guard how they talk about their leadership.
- They devote themselves to one church, moving in one direction.
- They are consumed more by reaching the lost than their own needs or desires.
- They love serving in God’s house regardless of position or title.
- They have a long-term mind about church.
- They make choices about their future (including children and career) with church at the centre.
- They simply put church first!
Now, to understand church we need to have a look at Acts 1:1-4 and 42-47. Within these scriptures you will find 15 clear descriptors of church. The first church is a Biblical pattern for today’s church; it is a guide for our present day strategies and structure.
15 dynamics of the first church:
- The infilling of the Holy Spirit. The working of the Holy Spirit in and through every believer.
- The apostles doctrine. The authoritative teaching of the Word of God.
- Fellowship. The cultivating of relationships with a total inclusion of the whole body, every tribe and tongue.
- The breaking of bread. Holy Communion.
- Prayer. All kinds of prayers and intercessions.
- The fear of the Lord. The awesome respect for Almighty God.
- Signs and wonders. The miraculous works of the Holy Spirit.
- Unity of believers. True unity, despite colour, social standing, or background.
- All things in common. The adventure of liberal giving.
- In the temple. Commitment to all corporate gatherings.
- From house to house. Harvest Groups and small groups
- Simplicity of heart. The joy of the Christ-like lifestyle.
- Praising God. The spiritual impact of worship.
- Favour with the people. The influence of righteousness in our city.
- Added to the Church. The making of disciples in the local church.
These church minded people operated in such a way that it shook the very place in which they lived. Many, many souls were being added daily to the church. The first seven chapters of the book of Acts covers the first seven years of the church, and within that time the church saw revival, healing, miracles, signs and wonders; the very thing that so many run after today, outside of church. Being church minded will result in nations, towns, and cities being changed!
The book of Ephesians encapsulates what a church-minded generation should be:
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
All these words give you the picture of a family! A church-minded person sees the church as their true family where life, freedom, and strength are given. When we give ourselves to church we experience the greatest ride of our lives. It is beautiful, it’s His church – the one Jesus had in mind!