This is a guest post from Dan Reiland
When you think of the church, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
To a large degree, your answer has a dramatic impact on how you lead, perhaps even on how you pursue God. I love the Church, even with its flaws.
That’s the two-sided tension. God is perfect; we are not. The Church is imperfect, so there will always be problems to solve, but if we’re not careful, we’ll only see the problems because, as leaders, it’s our responsibility to solve them.
There are problems to solve, and as leaders, we must solve them. However, we must also lift our eyes above the problems to see the beauty and power of the church at its best, to remember where we are headed and why. We tend to see what we look for and focus on, so it’s important not to allow human imperfection to blind us from the beauty of the Church as God designed it to be.
The source of beauty in the Church is the eternal nature of God’s unending love and Jesus’ selfless sacrifice for our redemption.
We see the beauty in things such as:
The source of the power in the Church (the body of Christ) is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sent in Jesus’ name. (John 14:26)
We see that power in action through things such as:
- Spiritual wisdom is far beyond our own.
- Transformation to new life
- Answers to prayer
- Communities, cities, and countries impacted for good
- Miraculous intervention
See the Church as God intended:
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
As you read through the five points, take a moment of reflection on two things:
- What are the areas in which you can thank God for His presence and power in your church?
- What one area might your church step up for an even stronger ministry?
1) In its purest form, the church seeks nothing for itself.
When you see the church as Jesus sees it (The Father’s love, redemption, unified community, and hope), you know the potential. You see only problems when you see the church through conflict, hurt, disappointment, or even cynicism.
The nature of God’s love and the example of Jesus’ life seeks nothing for self. That may seem way out of reach for us, yet, that is our example.
Let’s look at an obvious and practical illustration.
No one is ever charged a fee to enter the church’s doors for a regular weekly worship service or any of the core ministries it offers. Instead, it’s a gift to all who seek a deeper walk with God.
As Christians mature, many give sacrificially so the ministry can continue to change lives, with no strings attached. The prayer is a maturing faith, but the love and investment are unconditional.
That is a beautiful reflection of God’s unconditional love, and the Church is the institution that carries that mission.
Reflection / Action: Express gratitude to God for all the things your church does, seeking nothing in return and asking Him to multiply the impact according to His will and purposes
2) A single act of kindness in Jesus’ name resonates with all of Heaven.
Few things carry more power or touch hearts more deeply than a simple act of kindness. Your church is designed to multiply these thousands of times over. The smallest, including unseen, acts of kindness align with the heart of Heaven. God multiplies the eternal impact of these acts of kindness when done according to His purpose and plan.
They truly carry the Gospel in a powerful way. When the people of your church come together in a unified force to engage in larger endeavors in the community, these acts of love and compassion make it possible for the world at large to see the hand and heart of God.
Reflection / Action: Are acts of kindness, small and large, deeply embedded in the culture of your church? What recent examples come to mind?
3) The truth of the Gospel has the power to break anyone out of captivity.
So much today holds the people we love and serve captive. Things like worry, fear, anxiety, addiction, pride, anger, greed, and the list go on.
The heightened levels of sustained stress we experience amplify these conditions that can take our minds and emotions into captivity and prevent us from living the lives God intends for us.
Further, in a time when it’s increasingly difficult to know who to believe or trust, we can always count on the truth in the Word of God. This casts no shadow on any specific person or idea but elevates the truth and promises of Scripture.
God’s Word is a powerful “true north” gift to the Church, a gift that the Church freely offers to anyone who will listen and seeks a more meaningful life.
Reflection / Action: Take a moment to thank God and pray for the pastoral leaders who faithfully communicate the truth of Scripture to your church. Further, consider if there is any way to elevate this gift of truth you have to offer.
4) The church is a space for peace, quiet, and reflection in an otherwise 100mph society.
As I talk with church leaders and those who attend church, more and more people are craving a way to slow down, reflect, and find peace in their daily lives. This is a tremendous and sometimes underplayed gift the church has to offer.
I’m sensing a little conviction as I write this because so many churches, including mine, also move at a very high pace. But candidly, sometimes that’s necessary to keep up with culture enough to engage it.
However, all the more important is to provide intentional times for quiet, moments for reflection, and a spirit of peace in an otherwise hectic world.
One of the best examples is quiet reflection and prayer. A few minutes of reflection or prayer during a worship service or longer times created in other environments allow a life-changing way to experience the peace of God and the quietening of our souls in a fast-paced culture.
Reflection / Action: What times of reflection, quiet, and prayer do you set aside for yourself each week? How are these offered and encouraged to your congregation?
5) The power that activates the miraculous is still available today.
What miracle are you asking of God right now? Miracles can be large or small, but they involve something only possible with God.
Anticipating miracles from God grows your faith and the faith of those you serve. The hope of a miracle piques the interest of those who do not believe, and experiencing miracles increases the spiritual momentum of your church.
The supernatural is a realm often misunderstood, but it’s the realm of God. Therefore, we must lean in, learn, and allow God to do all He desires to see His purposes unfold. We are invited to ask for miracles in our own lives, but we can also pray that God would unleash the miracles He already has in mind!
This is an incredibly powerful gift the Church has to offer through God’s kindness and grace.
Reflection / Action: Are you telling stories of the miraculous in your church? Remember, miracles can be large or small. How are you supportive of this process?
The article was first posted here.
Dan Reiland is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.