Monday, August 15, 2016

Describing a Good Church

A good church is a body where people can gather and participate in the presence of God and the company of other seekers and believers, in the quest to get to know both Jesus and themselves better. A good church is a forum, unlike the past in which answers were often just given, where all the questions can be asked, and there are many voices and experiences through which God's answers can be discovered and discerned. A good church is, unlike the organisational and exclusive modes of the past, a space in which people can simply receive healing from past hurts and abuse, and find forgiveness for their misdeeds and discover grace in their character flaws. A good church is NOT into 'appearance management', but rather allows for brokenness and failure.

A good church is where one can learn well to follow Jesus in each generation, and to change in the ways necessary to be part of God's new creation. A good church is where one can enthusiastically worship God with freedom, in the company of both like-minded people and those starting on a new journey. A good church is where people can belong, feel welcome, find acceptance, give and receive hospitality, be valued, and express their gifts and abilities, while all the time discovering what it is that they really believe. A good church facilitates broad involvement. A good church has a healthy cross-section of people, mirroring the local community. A good church then gently and courageously nurtures faith, commitment, consistency and discipleship.

Good churches are NOT focussed on themselves, but rather outwardly focussed on the community around them - creatively engaging with all the pain and joy within, and also active towards the needs of the world at large. Good churches pray the 'Lord's Prayer', and actively seek to be a part of the answer to their own prayer of: "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Good churches understand that they have been given all the resources they need to turn the world upside down, with all injustice bowing to Jesus.

Good churches see themselves as an interconnected body seeking the common good with Jesus at the head. In a good church, the people love, share with, encourage, care for, support and forgive one another. In a good church, the people want to spend time together, especially in worship, and also in mission. Good churches are based around the Word of God and the Sacraments of the 'Lord's Supper'. Good churches, although diligent in appointing human leadership according to their gifts and maturity, are actually led by the Holy Spirit, best experienced as people gather in humility, dependence upon God, and prayer.

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