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Series Theme: Characteristics of a Vibrant Church

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Vision for the Characteristics of a Vibrant Church


PART ONE: Introduction


Contents of this Introduction


1.1 Painting a Vision of ‘Church'
1.2 The Proposed Characteristics of a Vibrant biblically-based Church
1.3 But How?

In this introductory Part I want to simply propose formulating a Biblical vision for the Church, suggest its characteristics and pose the introductory questions about how we may go about it.



1.1 Painting a Vision of ‘Church'


I have previously written of a vibrant church and so I would do well to describe what I mean by that before we go on in the following Parts to examine four of the key ingredients of such a church. I am sure others could be added but these are the ones, observing the spectrum of the Church today, that seem to come to the fore as of particular importance.


Recently writing a series of studies on the Seven Churches of Asia Minor in Rev 2 & 3, in the one about Laodicea I found myself writing the following:


“A spiritually rich church is one that is alive with the presence and power and activity of God by His Spirit, where life and vitality, where fellowship and friendship, where power and authority, pour through the congregation, through this potentially wonderful ‘body of Christ', bringing constant life transformations, with conversions, deliverances and healings being a regular feature of their life.


Within that study and in the context of Laodicea I added, ‘We may think we are rich but if these things are absent, we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked,' and honesty makes me wonder if this is how Jesus sees his Church today if we fall short of that description above? This series is to help us see if we are such a ‘vibrant church', and if not, what steps may we take to become it?


In another series on this site, ‘Learning to Pray for the Church', which came about as a result of leading a Prayer Workshop, I proposed four key characteristics of a vibrant church that follow the New Testament teaching.



1.2 The Characteristics of a Vibrant Biblically-based Church


Perhaps if you I haven't read those notes I should briefly reiterate those four characteristics here because they are the foundation of the four Parts that follow in this series (and remember these here are really just headings).


•  First, such a church is utterly Bible-based and holds Bible teaching very seriously.
•  Second, such a church majors on relationships in order to create an environment that is conducive to both healing us up and teaching for growth, and reveals us as the ‘different' people of God
•  Third, such a church works vigorously to open the door to the Holy Spirit and lead all its members into eventually being filled with the Spirit and gifted for service by the Spirit.
•  Fourth, such a church will have a strong outward looking emphasis in its desire to glorify God in this world and bring His life and love to the surrounding world.
•  All of this, I should add, was in the context or environment of a church that puts prayer and a living relationship with the Lord very high on the agenda.
•  I think it would be right to add that a year or so back I also wrote a series entitled ‘Faith Church' and so faith must be another key component to be considered when we are pondering on what a vibrant Christian church might be and the characteristics we might observe in it.


Now I suspect that a number reading that list of four things above would say, we are doing all those things. Well, wait until we move into each Part examining each of those seven things (yes, prayer, relationships and faith included) and then see if that is really true. I think what we can sometimes find is that if they are all represented it may not be in the fulness that could be. More commonly, we may find one or more of those initial four but not all of them. Let's wait and see.



1.3 But How?


I found myself thinking

•  How would the leaders of any local church go about bringing into being this ‘vibrant church' that I have been thinking and praying about?

•  What are the practicalities of achieving it?

•  How may it fit into the Lord's universal timetable for this point of history?


That is what this series is about.