I’ve been a part of a local church in some capacity for over sixty years, and sometimes local churches do not work the way they ought to. We know that Jesus started the Church, and that truth alone tells us that the Church has God’s blessing. Perhaps the problem isn’t the plan for the Church, but the people working the plan. If God’s people are not operating the Church God’s way, then it make sense why often individual churches are drifting from the mission.
In Acts 20:28, the Apostle Paul gives a word of encouragement to the elders of the Church in Ephesus that may help us understand some of the keys to what makes the Church work well today. Paul says, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.”
In this powerful statement Paul makes to the leaders of the Ephesian church, I believe we see some important principles for what makes the Church in general function.
First, churches need godly leadership! The Elders in Ephesus served as overseers who ensured that the church stayed on track. That included everything from staying focused on the mission, to doctrinal truth, and moral purity. It is often said that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, and that is certainly true for the Church. The Church works best when it is being led by leaders who pay attention to themselves and the flock.
Secondly, churches need willing followers! Paul refers to the Church as a flock, and a good flock always follows the shepherd. Wherever you find a congregation of people who are willing to follow Christ and are on His mission, the church works. Churches that are turned inward and are filled with selfish agendas and strife often do not work. A house divided will never be a church that works the way God intended it to work.
Third, churches need total buy-in from every member! Church leaders and church members all need to understand how much the Church cost. Paul reminds the Ephesians that the Church cost Jesus His very life. Jesus “purchased” the Church with His own blood. Jesus loved and cared for the Church so much that He would be willing to sacrifice everything for her to succeed. Imagine what might happen if we were just willing to up our commitment to Christ’s Church just a little bit? If every believer were willing to give more, serve more, and invite more, we would be surprised how well the Church works by design.
The Church works when people work it the way God intended it to work. When a church has godly oversight of willing people who are making sacrifices, you will have a church that is fulfilling the God-given purpose for which it was created.
Impact Discipleship Ministries was created to help churches fulfill the Great Commission and we can help you pursue that goal. Please contact us if you need resources, training, consulting, or coaching in how to make the church work. Check us out at impactdisciples.com.