Enjoying the Journey

The First Baptist Church in America, Providence, RI

It is something I hear often. People are interested in the “great churches” in our generation. What are they? Where are they? Who is even qualified to say that they are great?

Over the last thirty months on the road full time I have had the joy of being in hundreds of churches. Churches of all sizes and personalities. A church is a body – a living organism – and, as such, varies from place to place. Each is unique in some way.

I have come to three conclusions about “great churches”…

  1. Every local, New Testament church is great because of the One to whom it belongs. The church belongs to no man. If it is a true church it is the body, the building, the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the Founder, the Head, the Foundation, the Bridegroom, the Great Shepherd, the Builder, the Savior of that church. In this basic sense, every church is great as a part of the wonderful work for which Christ died!
  2. No local, New Testament church is great because of the things men value and the world measures.
  • A church is not great because of the number of people who attend – it is great because of the number of people there who know how to pray.
  • A church is not great because of the amount of money in the bank – it is great because of the rich truth that is being taught and preached.
  • A church is not great because of the facilities they have – it is great because the presence of the Lord is among His people.
  • A church is not great because of the variety of programs they offer – it is great because of a singular burden for lost souls to be saved.
  • A church is not great because of the popularity of the preacher – it is great because Christ Himself is lifted up in that place.
  • A church is not great because there are prominent and powerful families in it – it is great because there is a unity in the family of God among people of all backgrounds and walks of life.
  • A church is not great because it has a wonderful heritage from the past – it is great because it has a fresh vision for the future.
  • A church is not great because it is recognized in the community – it is great because it has a heart to touch the world.
  • A church is not great because it has exciting services – it is great because it has a consistent ministry to hurting people.
  • A church is not great because it attracts the trendy crowd – it is great because it continues with consistent, mature believers.
  1. Any local, New Testament church can make a great impact if it will follow the model found in the Word of God.

I believe the New Testament church is great as an institution because Christ founded it. We will have to leave the “greatness” of any individual church with the One who alone will be the judge at the end of time.

When asked once about the great churches I have been in, I replied, “You wouldn’t know most of them.” They are unknown to most, but known to God. A church doesn’t have to be famous to be great. It just has to be what Christ started it to be.

Perhaps if we spent more time speaking of the greatness of God and working on greater personal obedience we would see more truly great churches!

 

6 Comments

  1. Pastor Erick Goff on April 23, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I do appreciate the humility and honesty in this response to great churches. I also agree that the greatest of churches will be the ones to which God is the most honored and Jesus Christ is the one exalted, in and through the working power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for the email.

  2. Timothy Johnson on April 23, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Brother Pauley,
    Thank you for this great article. I pastor a great Church, not because of the building, attendance or the social status. The people hear from the pastor how great it is to see God working in their lives, homes and families. The world has none of these characteristics to offer the people. So, we, men of God, should tell them like it is from the Word of God how great they are to Him! What a blessing to me that you would make such a statement about churches that are not known, just like the one I pastor. God bless you for your labor of love to churches.
    Pastor Timothy Johnson
    Grace Baptist Church
    De Queen, Arkansas

    • Scott Pauley on April 23, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you. God bless you and the work there in De Queen!

  3. James Pauley on April 23, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Thanks for the article on What is a great church. Grateful reminder. Encouraging. May God bless you. Praying for you.

    Uncle James
    Isa. 40:31

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