Warren Wiersbe said, “The church is a family that comes together for encouragement, spiritual nourishment, and discipline. It’s an army that assembles to be equipped for battle and to hear God’s marching orders. It’s a flock that seeks God’s protection in a dangerous world, a bride that expresses devotion to the heavenly Bridegroom, a group of servants that seek their Master’s will. We meet together, not to escape life, but to be equipped and encouraged to go back to life with its burdens and battles.”1
But none of that just “happens.”
A church has to be intentional and purposeful in order to become effectual. There are several undeniable and non-negotiable characteristics that are necessary to build a great church. Our desire is to be a church like that. So, let’s review those qualities one more time. A great church has to be:
(1) A Surrendered Church. A place where every single staff member, leader and lay person is absolutely sold out to Jesus Christ. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. You’re not 98% saved or 98% committed to the Lord. If so, you’re 100% lost.
(2) A Separated Church. God only works through holy vessels. Period. We’ve been called and commanded to be distinctly different from the world in which we live. No one should be confused about whose side we’re on. Especially God.
(3) A Sound Church. Paul said the time would come when people would “no longer put up with sound doctrine.” You might be a “popular” church and do that, but if you want to be a God-honoring, Christ-exalting church, you must be anchored to the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
(4) A Studying Church. We need to know what we believe and why we believe it. 2 Timothy 2:15 is a verse every Christian ought to memorize and practice. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This must be our daily pursuit, and we should understand it will take a lifetime.
(5) A Single-Minded Church. We have to keep the main thing the main thing. We are here on Earth for two primary purposes: 1) To glorify God and, 2) To bring people to Him. We cannot and must not become a sidetracked church getting involved in all kinds of secondary issues that might be good, but are not God’s intention for us.
“We cannot and must not become a sidetracked church getting involved in all kinds of secondary issues that might be good, but are not God’s intention for us.”
(6) A Strong Church. Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength.” A great church will be able to endure, overcome and outlast the inevitable storms that come. There isn’t a church without struggles, sorrows, trials, tests and problems. The great churches are strong enough to withstand the storms and even the very gates of Hell cannot prevail against them.
(7) A Serving Church. Great churches are great because they are full of servants. People who have the heart of the Great Shepherd and want to serve and meet the needs of others more than their own. In a great church, every member is ministering, every saint is serving, and no one is left hurting, grieving, struggling or sorrowing, because someone is there.
(8) A Sharing Church. Generosity is one of the first words that comes to mind when you attempt to describe a great church. God gets the firstfruits (the tithe) of all they receive each week and they give beyond that enthusiastically and sacrificially with joyful hearts.
(9) A Sacrificing Church. Great churches are characterized by leaders and people who are willing to do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ. They understand it’s not about personal preference, comfort or convenience. It’s about reaching every man, woman, boy and girl possible with the Gospel.
(10) A Seasoned Church. You’ll find Christian maturity everywhere you look in a great church, with seasoned saints who’ve been submitting to and serving the Savior. Their steady hands, godly hearts and years of wisdom have helped the church get where she is today and will assure her of getting where God wants her to be tomorrow.
(11) A Stretching Church. Great churches are always striving to improve, attempting to do more, launching out into deeper waters, tackling new challenges, climbing higher mountains, you name it.
(12) A Second-Coming Church. The driving force behind the passion, programs and people in a great church is the expectation that Jesus is coming back! Maybe even today! It fuels the fire in their hearts and creates a sense of urgency about everything they do.
So that’s what a great church looks like. Certainly, we’ve got a long way to go before we get there and, I’m quite confident, we’ll never fully arrive in all of those areas. But, with your help, we can sure get close.
I’m asking YOU to help us become a great church.
Will you help us?
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
1 Wiersbe, Warren W. The Integrity Crisis. Thomas Nelson, 1988. Pg. 55.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.