Once there was a worshiping community who was radically devoted to God. They were committed to spreading the Gospel. They were connected in such a way that they called each other brothers and sisters. They even sold their property and possessions so no one in the community would have to live without basic needs. And walls came down! Gender, racial, social and economic differences dissolved away. They were washed in the blood of the Lamb. They experienced the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in their community.*
This vision of what the church can be is from Acts 2. Some few of us may have been part of such a church. Most of us haven't! Our churches, for the most part, have not been that faith inspiring. Our churches haven't moved us to do that much. Most of us have not experienced an Acts 2 church.
Why? Why don't we have churches like that today? Has God lost His power? Is the Holy Spirit no longer fired up? Does the Gospel no longer change lives? The problem isn't God, the Holy Spirit nor the Gospel. The problem is us! The problem is people won't risk everything to build an Acts 2 church. That's the problem!
Leadership matters in all churches of God because people matter to God. The only reason God spilled His blood on the cross of Calvary is His love for people. We in the church all have a sacred obligation to grow as leaders, develop our ministry skills, and learn how to do the Lord's work better. Everyone wins in church when a leader gets better. A church grows when its leaders get better.
It's our decision as leaders to get better as whatever we do in the church. When we feel in our own spirit that we are developing, our hearts are growing, our heads are growing, our gifts are growing, then people around us sense our growth and begin to live their lives that way. Leaders who are growing lift people up, build up the church, and are a blessing to others.
A church loses this lifting up - building up - blessing others, when its leaders stop growing. Churches without growing leaders are dying churches. And over time dying churches finally have to close their doors. What is more sad than a light of God's kingdom that goes out? We live in a dark world. There aren't that many lights. So, when a church's light flickers, and then goes out, it's a tragedy. It's a tragedy when a church dies.
It's all gets back to what the church is really about. The church is all about evangelism, discipleship and compassion. When evangelism is happening supernaturally, when people are getting saved from their sins, when people are becoming faithful followers of Jesus, when people are reaching out to those who are hurting with compassion and care, praise God! That's it! That's the beauty, power and potential of every local church. When church works right, there is nothing else like it on earth.
No church has to die. Every church, with God's help, can stay fired up and faith filled. Keep telling people that God loves them, that the Holy Spirit is still working in people's hearts, that the Gospel is still transforming people's lives, that the church is still the only hope of the world. Keep beating that drum. Good things will happen.
*I'm indebted to Bill Hybels (Good News magazine September/October 2016) for his testimony to Gods' grace in his life and ministry, part of the outline of which I used for this post.