Wasn't the first time the word "church" was used was when Jesus spoke to Peter?
Matt. 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
The Church belongs to God, and nothing will overcome it. But this was not the first time people heard this word "church." The Greek word "eklesia" was actually used first in Athens, Greece to describe a meeting of citizens, individually responsible in the gathering. It was born in a society where a citizen's role was vital and well understood. Amazing, then, that Jesus said, "I will build MY church." This was a different kind of gathering from what people knew before; this was a gathering of citizens of heaven gathering for God's pleasure in His kingdom. This gathering is HIS. Wow!
In our 20+ years of serving in the Church, I have found 4 qualities that make a great church member:
We've been part of five churches since we were married. The church in America has been going through massive changes during those years. Chuck Swindoll says the Church has been "eroding." We've failed to be marked by the teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayer the first church was devoted to. People like Pastor Terry Jones in Florida, sponsoring the Burn a Koran Day, aren't helping to show the transforming power of God's love to the watching world. The Church surely needs an awakening.
Be Regular - people who are consistent to be part of the worship, the learning, the serving ... the Body life. There is no substitute for being present and involved. (Hebrews 10:24-26)
Be Responsible - people who are self feeders and grow independently, not expecting to be carried along on the spiritual shoulders of others. No one can be saved for me or grow for me. (1 Peter 2:2)Be Respectful - people who pay attention to the authority of God's Word in their lives and the role of God's leaders in their lives. (1 Thess. 5:12-13)
Be Responsive - people who respond to what they learn about God by wanting to serve others and get the life saving gospel and its impact out to others. (Colossians 2:6-7)
TODAY I'm excited to share a new resource with you. I had the privilege of receiving a preview copy of Chuck Swindoll's newest book, released today, called the Church Awakening. This is a timely look at the organism that belongs to God and is the Bride for His Son, Jesus. Swindoll makes an honest evaluation of how the Church has changed and how it has suffered under postmodernism, saying it has eroded in its focus and practice. He considers the impact on the primary aim of the church: worship, and he reveals the distinctives of a contagious church. This book is insightful, scriptural, helpful, and direct.
This has been a challenging read, and I highly recommend it for serious believers in the church and, in particular, for pastors and leaders in the Body. Watch a short message from Pastor Swindoll here.
Let's be "awakened" as the Church of Christ, so we will be strong and blameless until He returns (1 Cor. 1:7-9). October 10th is Clergy Appreciation Sunday, and this would be an excellent book to give as a gift for your pastor. Or, read and respond to the Church Awakening as a citizen of the Church, also as a gift for your pastor. :)