What Makes a Great Church?
Monday, March 23, 2015 at 8:51PM
Ben Simpson in Church, Jesus, Theology

 photo credit: Thin blue line via photopin (license)

What makes a great church? Not its size or buildings or heritage or preacher or quality of its membership. What makes a church great is the real-as-life presence of Christ and its faithful living of the story. What gave rise to Christianity? It was not the disciples' superior moral precepts. It was their proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead and was in some form still alive in them. This is what birthed the church, and what still holds a Jesus community together. Not rules. Not fear. Not causes. Not programs. Grace--the free gift of love and mercy that makes us participants in the divine nature--is the glue of Me/We solidarity.
- Leonard Sweet, Me and We: God's New Social Gospel

What, indeed, makes a great church?

Dr. Sweet says that it is grace, a grace evidenced by the presence of Christ at work among his people, guiding the church by the Spirit into a faithful and fresh living of the story of God's people across time.

Christianity arose, and is alive and well, where the gospel of Jesus' resurrection is proclaimed, and testimony is given in word and deed that in his resurrection, there is life. Christ reigns in heaven and on earth, and in us, forever.

Often we believe that the greatness of a church is determined by size, influence, or fame. We mistakenly believe a church is great because of what we have made it. We envy a leader, a preacher, a budget, a facility, a programmatic innovation, and think, "If only we could have that here."

But there is only one church, and it is great because of what God has made and is making it through Christ. Whenever we, made part of that church, experience the presence of Christ, give testimony to his life in us, share the gospel truthfully, or live the story faithfully, then there is only one proper response: humble praise.

The very thing that makes the church great, Jesus the Christ, is available and accessible to all believers, in any time, at any place.

We are invited to trust him, and open ourselves to his work in our midst. May his glory be revealed in his church, in all times, and in every place.

Article originally appeared on Benjamin A. Simpson (http://benjaminasimpson.com/).
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