Chicken Soup of The Church

In my two previous articles, I concentrated on the single greatest attribute of God and next on the attributes that devout Christians should possess. Now I want to turn to the attributes of what a devout church should possess.

It is joked that chicken soup is the cure for the common cold. Modern research has actually shown that chicken soup, more than other hot liquid, increases mucus flow and helps the body rid itself of the cold virus. Chicken is rich in an amino acid called cysteine which helps loosen secretions. If that is true, shouldn’t a church be the chicken soup to the community around them.

I researched the Internet and I came across the following four lists of what a local church should be:

First, out of the Reformation flowed seven characteristics or identity markers of the Church:

1. The church is doxological, It’s oriented to the glory of God.

2. The church is Word-centered. It’s centered on the incarnate Word, who is Jesus Christ, and the inspired Word: Scripture.

3. The church is to be Spirit-activated. It’s created, gifted, united, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

4. The church is covenantal. It exists in new covenant relationship with God, and together, the members exist in a covenantal relationship with one another.

5. The church is confessional. Each member had a personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Together the church confesses sound doctrine—what it believes about a triune God, Jesus Christ, the Son incarnate, and the Spirit.

6. The church is missional. It’s the body of divinely-called, divine ministers who proclaim the gospel throughout the world.

7. The church is here, but not here. It’s already, but not yet. We’re sojourners, we’re strangers. We’re pilgrims in this world. We enjoy walking with the Lord and doing his will now, but we look forward to something greater in the future.

Second, there are many amenities people look for in churches, but these are the most important qualities:

1. Are the Leaders Biblically Qualified and Mutually Accountable? – Church leadership in our day often seeks to reflect the charisma, drive, and vision which our culture looks for in leaders in business or politics. “Successful” Christian leaders (meaning those with large churches and ministries) write books on leadership which seem based more upon management and marketing techniques than upon Scripture. In these models, the leader is regarded as the key to success. The New Testament, however, makes it clear that the Head and Chief Shepherd (Senior Pastor) of the church is Christ (1 Peter 5:4; Ephesians 1:22; 5:23) and that leaders are under-shepherds.

2. Do the Leaders/Pastors Shepherd the Sheep? – Both Paul and Peter exhort church leaders to shepherd God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). Church leaders are reminded that they will give an account to God for how they have tended the sheep he entrusted to their care (Hebrews 13:17). Some leaders are so driven to grow the church by attracting more people and resources that they don’t have time to actually get involved in helping the hurting sheep that are already part of the flock. Many pastors refuse to invest time in counseling individuals and families through conflicts and crises. Some don’t even believe that they are called to do so, but refer their members to outside “professional counselors” who may offer unbiblical advice. Are the leaders committed and equipped to minister God’s Word, not just publicly before a crowd, but also to individuals and families who need comfort and encouragement (Acts 20:20)?

3. Does this Church Equip Its Members to Serve God? – The church officers are not called to do all of the ministries, but rather they are called to equip each member to use his or her gifts to build up the church (1 Peter 4:10–11). Do the elders/ pastors at the church you are visiting encourage every member to serve? Are members free to use their gifts and even to start new ministries? Are the elders/pastors encouraging and training future leaders (2 Timothy 2:2)? Is this a church in which others will disciple you and you will have opportunity to disciple others? Is this a church where you will be able to flourish serving Christ and his people? Is this a church in which men and women are being encouraged and equipped to be godly husbands, wives, parents, employees, employers, and citizens (Ephesians 5:22–6:9; Romans 13:1–7)?

4. Does This Church Community Have a Culture of Grace, Love, and Peace? – God accepts us, not based upon outward appearance or even our works, but by his grace towards us in Christ. Are people accepted and welcomed into this church regardless of age, ethnicity, social background, spiritual weakness, or differences on secondary issues (such as educational choices for children, views on food and drink, the place of children and youth programs in the church, views of the end times/ rapture, etc.)? Because we are still sinners, you will never find a church in which there is no conflict. But is this church one in which members deal with their differences by showing grace toward one another (Proverbs 19:11; 1 Peter 4:8) and by pursuing peace (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14)? Do people seek to resolve their conflicts in a direct, biblical, and gentle way (Matthew 18:15; Galatians 6:1), rather than participating in slander, gossip, and bullying?

5. Does This Church Have an Outward Focus—Missions, Evangelism, and Church Planting? – Some churches are such close families that it is hard for an outsider to break into them. Other churches are so concerned about precision in their doctrine and practice that they expend more energy keeping the wrong people out than in welcoming those from the outside. Jesus has given us the great commission to bring his gospel to the world so that disciples can be made to serve and worship him (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8). Sadly, many churches grow primarily by attracting sheep from other local flocks. Is this church seeking to grow through conversions? Are members of this church encouraged and equipped to practice personal evangelism?

Third, does the church resemble the first century church:

1. A church built on God’s Holy Word. “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). The believers were devoted to the teaching of God’s holy Word. This means that they loved hearing, receiving, and obeying the teaching of the Word as directed by the Apostles. The Word of God was one of the dominant guiding factors in what that church stood for.

2. A church energized by prayer and worship. “They devoted themselves…to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The believers were in constant prayer and worship, both individually and corporately, which in turn energized all they did. In fact, when the Apostles were threatened in Acts 4:18, their response under threat was to “raise their voices together in prayer to God” (Acts 4:24). Acts 2:47 tells us that they were “praising God (daily) and enjoying the favor of all the people.” The church of Acts was energized by prayer and worship. When they prayed and worshiped, rooms were literally shaken, as seen in Acts 4:31 and Acts 16:25-26. As we, too, focus on more prayer and worship, individually and corporately, our churches would be energized to accomplish greater works for God. A praying and worshipping church brings glory to God.

3. A church powered by the Holy Spirit. “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the Apostles” (Acts 2:43). The church in Acts was powered by the Holy Spirit. As a result, signs, wonders, and miracles were a common occurrence and ‘everyone was filled with awe.’ According to the Dictionary, the meaning of the word ‘awe’ is defined as “A feeling of reverential respect mixed with…wonder.” It indicates something that cannot be explained naturally. We can therefore conclude that a lot of supernatural acts were being performed by the Apostles. This power at work through the Holy Spirit is further emphasized in Acts 4:33 where it says, “With great power the Apostles continued to testify to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus” and in Acts 5:12, which says, “The Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.” At a time when the church of Jesus Christ and Christian families are under severe attack by the forces of darkness, let us pray for a fresh infusion of the Holy Spirit’s power among His people. May we experience that power whenever congregations come together to worship the Savior. Truly, the Lord will be glorified!

4. A church that evangelized daily. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). People being saved daily meant that the believers were sharing the Gospel daily. The Book of Acts shows us that regular evangelism was the clear pattern of their ministry. They refused to be stopped, even when threatened, beaten, or imprisoned. As they continued to evangelize, Acts 5:14 shows that “More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” Even when the church was scattered later under Saul’s vicious persecution, the Bible says “Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4). The heart for winning souls needs to be renewed within the Body of Christ today because every soul saved brings glory to God. As someone said, “We were not called to cultivate fish, but to catch fish!” Let’s keep sharing the Gospel whenever and wherever an opportunity arises.

Forth, The Eight Essential Qualities of a Healthy Church That Research has Revealed:

1. Empowering Leadership—Leders of healthy growing churches concentrate on empowering other Christians for ministry. They do not use lay workers as “helpers” in attaining their own goals and fulfilling their own visions. Rather, they invert the pyramid of authority so that the leader assists Christians to attain the spiritual potential God has for them. These pastors equip, support, motivate and mentor individuals, enabling them to become all that God wants them to be.

2. Gift-oriented ministry—The role of church leadership is to help its members to identify their gifts and integrate them into appropriate ministries. When Christians serve in their areas of gifting, they generally function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary.

3. Passionate spirituality—Are Christians in our church “on fire?” Do they live committed lives and practice their faith with joy and enthusiasm? A few weeks ago I waited in line for more than eight hours for the doors to open at the Brownsville Assembly of God Church facility in Pensacola, Florida. When the doors opened at 6 PM, there were too many people in line in front of me to get a seat in the main sanctuary. I ended up in the chapel next door, perched in front of a video screen. People were so hungry for God. At the end of evangelist Steve Hill’s sermon, hundreds of people literally ran to the altar to get right with God. Many of them were Generation Xers. The Lord is restoring passionate spirituality to His church.

4. Functional structures—There are those who believe “structure” and “life” are opposites. Both are needed. Biological research reveals that dead matter and living organisms are not distinguished by their substance, but by the structural relationship of the parts to each other. Whenever God breathes His Spirit into formless clay, both life and form spring forth. When God pours out His Spirit within the church today, He gives it structure and form. New cells are flexible structures for the new life He is bringing to our churches.

5. Inspiring worship service—Is the worship service in your church inspiring? Cell churches that minimize anointed worship services are shooting themselves in the foot. Paul taught publicly, and from house to house (Acts 20:20). We need both!

6. Holistic small groups—Christian Schwarz stated, “If we were to identify anyone principle as the most important, then without a doubt it would be the multiplication of small groups. They must be holistic small groups that go beyond just discussing Bible passages to applying their message to daily life. In these groups, members are able to bring up those issues and questions that are immediate personal concerns.”

7. Need-oriented evangelism—We are all called to use our gifts to fulfill the Great Commission. Each Christian must use his or her gifts to serve non-Christians with whom one has a personal relationship, to see to it that they hear the gospel, and to encourage contact with the local church.

8. Loving relationships—Growing churches possess a measurably higher “love quotient” than stagnant, declining ones. Healthy growing churches practice hospitality as believers invite others into their homes as a normal part of their Christian lives. People do not want to hear us talk about love, they want to experience how Christian love really works.

In Summary, there are a few traits of a church that repeat themselves in these lists. First prayer and studying the Word of God are the lifeblood. Second, Evangelism outside the church walls is vitally important. Third, mentoring prepares the church for the future. Fourth, recognizing individual gifts. Fifth, the church is to be Holy Spirit empowered. Sixth, love is to be the bond that holds the church together. Seventh, small groups are what allows the church to be more intimate. Eighth, there must be servant minded leadership. Ninth, protection against sin in their midst. Tenth, elevating our Lord and Savior through worship. Eleventh, the church is not to be a financial institution nor is to revolve around social events.

As a closing note, churches need to reconsider selling their soul to the US government by being 501c3 tax exempt:

501c3 Tax Exempt Facts


About annointing

Defender of the Christian Faith
This entry was posted in Doctrine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s