“And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said,“Let us rise up and build.”So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” (Nehemiah 2:18, ESV)
As we move into the month of February, we begin our 33rdmonth of ministry with you all at First Christian Church of Brook. It is hard to believe that we will soon complete the “three years” that were a part of our original conversations. That fact, as well as our current series from the book of Nehemiah, has been a catalyst for a lot of reflection and appraisal on my part.
In an article titled “How to Recognize a Healthy Church,” (www.insight.org, 9/14/10) by Charles R. Swindoll, he provides six activities identified as “valuable and necessary.” He admits that these are not a church’s “primary purpose,” but goes on to state a “healthy church is one that reflects [these] six significant qualities—qualities you want to look for.” I recommend that you search and read the article – copies will be made available.
I want to focus on the last—"a healthy church has a contagious style.” The question I have struggled with since reading the article is why we are not and/or how we might become “…a church with a contagious style draws people to its doors.” He lists four “features” of the contagious style. You decide where we do or don’t deserve the checkmark. The following is a direct quote with the addition of a place for you to make your ‘mark’:
( ) It is biblical in content. Messages are based on the Word of God, not on the opinions or interests of the preacher.
( ) It is authentic in nature. This is a church that believes what it says.
( ) It is gracious in attitude. The church sees itself as a family, not as a corporation.
( ) It is relevant in approach. This church shows how God’s Word applies to today’s needs, issues, and concerns.
Using Nehemiah as our primary reference, we have asked some important questions the past three weeks: How much do we care? Do we have sufficient faith towaitfor God’s way to be make clear and to ask for what we need? Do we really believe that God can/will make us prosper?
Now, one final thought! Thom Rainer has done extensive research in the area of church growth and decline. He believes there are four statements that have the power to stop renewal and/or revitalization cold in its tracks: (1) “If only we had more __________”; (2) “It’s __________ ‘s fault”; (3) “This situation is hopeless”; and (4) “This is not a good area for church renewal.” My prayer is that our conversations do not include any of these four, but that we speak out with the people answering Nehemiah: “Let us rise up and build!” How about it, church?