What does it take to build a strong church? We want to be members of congregations that are stable and firm, but how do we reach that point and, having reached it, maintain it?
Building and Maintaining a Strong Congregation
- Faithful Teaching. In II Timothy 4:1-5, Paul warns Timothy to hold to the truth despite any desire for false teachings. He says to be prepared to teach at any time. Acts 20:32 says that God’s word helps build us up and grants us our spiritual inheritance. Tied to this is a desire to teach (Matthew 28:19). We should be eager to fulfill this obligation.
- Steadfast Prayer. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” In Acts 12:13-16, we have some individuals praying fervently for Peter’s safety (but they were unconvinced that it had been answered). We should be devoted to prayer, and we should be convinced that those prayers can be answered (Matthew 17:20).
- Christian Living. Matthew 5:16 speaks to the light that should shine in our lives. Ephesians 4:24-32 instructs us to avoid certain behaviors if we identify ourselves with Christ, and Ephesians 5:1-2 as well as Galatians 5:22-23 gives us some behaviors and attitudes to replace these with. If we are to strengthen the church, our behavior should reflect the correct mindset.
- Congregational Love. Some congregations just feel so tense and cold. Proverbs 18:19 says a begrudging brother is harder to penetrate than a fortress, but John 13:34 records Jesus’ commandment that Christians demonstrate love for each other. This warmth and kindness is to be so evident that it is noticed by others. Compassion is tied to this love. Galatians 5:13-15 warns us against consuming one another in bitterness.
- Unity. I Corinthians 12:12-27 compares the church to our own bodies – a collection of separate components that function as one whole with one goal, and Ephesians 4 emphasizes the unity we are to have in doctrine, in purpose, and in goals. The church is Christ’s body, and we should function as one.
Teaching and edifying helps the church to grow and maintain soundness, and prayer gives us a place to take the troubles we do have for comfort and possible solution. In our congregation, love and compassion should be given to others as we try to live the life Christ modeled for us. All of this works to churches that act in unity and solidarity of purpose, growing stronger in Christ.
lesson by Charles Crawford