I think that many American Christians are living in a time where they are missing out on what it really means to be part of the church. And by church, I do not mean a building where Christians meet (because that is not what the church is); I mean a body of believers that are united for one purpose, namely, to glorify Christ.
Yesterday, my wife and I had a beautiful experience with the church. We are currently attending The Church at Brook Hills, which is a place that I never expected to be. Nevertheless, God has led us there and has healed us from the effects of the calamity we experienced at our previous place of ministry. Is Brook Hills a perfect place? No. Then what, you may ask, makes it a good “church”?
- It is where God has called us to be: Christians cannot sell themselves short and miss the will of God in settling for the church that is closest to their home or the church that their family has grown up in. For some this may be the case but it will not be for most Christians. A good church is pretty hard to find and we cannot simply choose a body to settle in based on the type of music or the children’s facilitie, or the different Bible studies they offer during the week. These are superficial things that will ultimately lead to dissatisfaction and imbalance. You should pray, visit a number of churches, talk to the pastors, secretaries, etc. Do as much research on the church that you are thinking about joining as you would on a job you were moving to. Don’t settle for a catchy sign, a cool building, or even a friendly pastor.
- It is where the Word of God is proclaimed: If God’s Word is not being preached in a church’s pulpit, then Jesus Christ is not being preached and He is most likely not present at the church at all. The Word of God is central to everything a church body does. It will determine how relationships are built, how money is spent and who makes up the church. If there is little concern for the Word in a church, then Christians should have little concern for being part of that church. Now, some would want to read into this statement an absolute necessity of expositional preaching. I would not go that far. Even though I prefer expositional preaching, I am not going to say that a church cannot be Word-centered and have a pastor that preaches textually or topically. Here is the bottom line: Is Jesus Christ being preached? Is the Gospel being proclaimed? These are marks of a church that is honoring the Word of God.
- It is Christ-exalting in worship: I am not just talking about the music. A worship service (the time in which the body of Christ joins to corporately worship the Lord) should be a time of consistent worship in which God is exalted through every element. Music, preaching, baptism, communion, drama, etc. All should glorify and exalt Jesus Christ.
- Finally, it is the church: The reason that Brook Hills has been a place of healing for us consists of all the above reasons, but primarily because there we have found the Gospel. We have found fellowship. We have found encouragement. But Brook Hills should not be special because of these things. All churches should have these things. However, these things will not exist in a place where the “church” does not exist; namely, they will not exist where true believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit are not present. But where you find true believers, you will find the church. And that is why we have found solace there.
Thank God for the church, not just The Church at Brook Hills, but for the true body of Christ that is made up of redeemed persons from every tribe and tongue. We are Christ’s body, His bride, and the very instrument of Christ on this earth.