1. The church needs to be God-centred. It needs to avoid competing distractions, even on the periphery—no idols, no images, no other gods, and no alternative ways of thinking. It needs to be focused on who God states that he is, not on who we would like him to be. [Common issues: other beliefs, practices associated with other beliefs, secularism, etc.]

2. The church needs to be Biblically based. It needs to take seriously the principles God provided for healthy living, for both a healthy relationship with him, and for a healthy community. [Common issues: tradition, re-jigged theology, personal preferences, etc.]

3. The church needs to be a place for teaching and growing. It needs to teach its members what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. It needs to provide clear and accurate teaching, and provide the resources that people need to grow. It also needs to encourage people to be fruitful and active members of the church community. [Common issues: lethargy, lack of focus, poor teaching, lack of acceptance, etc.]

4. The church needs to be inwardly caring, and supporting. It needs to provide pastoral care and support for all its members, regardless of age, sex, state of health, etc. It needs to prioritise caring for those within the church, over any need to care for those outside it. [Common issues: lack of compassion, misdirected focus, etc.]

5. The church needs to be outward looking. It needs to be constantly seeking opportunities to share the faith with others. It needs to embrace an attitude of welcoming, so that others may have the opportunity to respond to the message of salvation. [Common issues: Naval gazing, lack of focus, wanting things to stay the same, etc.]

6. The church needs to distinguish between the sacred and the profane.

a). It needs to uphold the principle of separation of church and state. It needs to recognise that a close relationship with the state, inevitably results in a diminished voice in matters of theology and ethics. It also diminishes the effectiveness in sharing the Gospel. [Common issues: entanglement in activities controlled by government (welfare programmes, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.), the licensing of marriage celebrants, etc.]

b). It needs to avoid problems associated with complying with the expectations of those outside the church. It needs to focus on its God-given duties, and not on the expectations and wants of a secular society. [Common issues: the conducting of weddings and funerals, the ownership and use of church buildings, etc.]

c). It needs to be financially self-supporting. It needs to trust in God, and not seek financial support from those outside the church—as these inevitably come with strings attached. [Common issues: giving God his due, loss of control, loss of the gospel, etc.]

7. The church needs to be a light to the community. It needs to be a place which attracts people to it by its very nature, because of the example of its Spirit-filled members. [Common issues: being true to God’s design, reflecting God’s values, not conforming to the expectations of those outside the church, etc.]

Posted: 13th October 2017
© 2017, Brian A Curtis
www.21stcenturybible.com.au