The other day I was walking through one of my favourite places in Guatemala. It’s the favourite place of most tourists and missionaries. It’s called Antigua, but not to be confused with the island. In Antigua you see many things from Mayans in their typical dress, markets filled with merchandise/souvenirs, cobblestone roads, people from all walks of life, from missionaries to street beggars.
I noticed a group of people that all appeared to be missionaries for the saying that they had on their shirt. Their shirt said, “I love my church”. Most Christians wear similar shirts for the purpose of ‘spreading the Gospel or standing for what they believe in. However, I have no idea if anyone has ever gotten saved because they read a message on someone else’s shirt.
This saying did catch my attention although, I’m sure it made no sense to the unbeliever or a non-churchgoer. In part I wanted to ask the people what the point was of wearing a shirt that says, “I love my church”. Honestly I was afraid what the answer might be. Possibly they thought they could win some people to their church by the saying on their shirt.
Don’t get me wrong, I too love my church. I’m glad for the church body I’m a part of both in Guatemala and Canada. I don’t think I’d advertise it on my shirt but these words made me reflect. That’s great if you love your church, but the real question is, does Jesus love your church? Does He come every Sunday? Is He healing the sick, mending the broken-hearted and saving souls on a regular basis or does He only show up once in a while if at all?
In the Bible I see 7 things that make church a great place to be. I’m sure there could be many more, but I think these are essentials that every church should have. This is why I called this blog, “The church God desires”. To see how God wants to have church we must go back to the first church in the book of Acts. Jesus wants the same for us today.
1. His Presence enters constantly. Acts 2:1-4
This is where God came into the upper room as a ‘mighty rushing wind’. God showed up in a powerful way in this prayer meeting. It was a place where believers (the church) were gathered together. They were waiting for the Promise that Jesus had given them (Acts 1:8). As they were in agreement they saw the Power of God like never before.
Has God ever shown up in your church this powerfully, where every person receives a touch from Him? Does His Presence come regularly? God’s Presence needs to be of most importance in church services. Pastors, if this doesn’t describe your church, you may need to make some changes. God wants to manifest and we need to allow Him to do so.
2. Believers are continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:29-31
After the believers had been threatened and beaten, they began to pray. They didn’t pray in a defeated way as many Christians do today. They prayed in faith from an attitude of victory. They asked God for an increase in boldness. When they did this the Bible says that they were “filled with the Holy Spirit”. These disciples had already been filled in Acts chapter 2 but obviously the needed more. We need to be filled continually like the Bible reassures us in Ephesians 5:18b, “but be filled with the Holy Spirit”. The verb “filled” in the original Greek means to be filled continually.
3. One speaks and God’s Presence comes. Acts 10:44-48
There’s a great need for anointed speakers. We have lots of preachers but what we need is God’s anointing upon them. Without God’s anointing we are just speaking and it brings no change. As Peter preached his first sermon to the Gentiles, God’s anointing fell upon him and everyone in the room spoke in tongues.
God’s presence needs to be evident in our meetings. God wants to pour out His Spirit in greater ways than ever before in history. I don’t know about you, but I desire more of His Presence in my life.
4. Miracles are common-place Acts 16:11, 12
If miracles are not happening frequently in your church something is wrong. Jesus said that we would see miracles (Matt 10:7, 8; John 14:12). God wants to do the miraculous all the time.
I love how the Bible says that “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul” (v.11). Anywhere else miraculous signs are known simply as miracles. Yet, here there seems to be a difference between miracles and unusual miracles. These miracles don’t happen all the time. I want to see more unusual miracles in my ministry. I pray that God will move in greater ways in the days to come.
5. Cities are transformed Acts 8:4-8
The church was so full of God’s Spirit that they had a greater influence in the cities they went to. They weren’t just reaching a few people they could fit in some venue; they were out to take the city. In this particular passage it says that “there was great joy in that city”. Imagine that! God didn’t just bring joy to a stadium or the people in the church; He brought joy to the CITY! God wants to use your church to impact the city! It’s time to rise up!
6. Unity amongst Believers. Acts 2:43-47
In the first church there was such love and unity amongst the believers. We need this so desperately today. I’m sure there was no back-biting, gossip, slander, etc. in the first church. I think less people would leave the church if we go back to the pattern that God laid out for us.
Let’s strive to bring unity to the church. Even if you start with yours first before you try to bring unity to other churches. Let other churches see the unity that you have and desire it for themselves.
7. God takes control. 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14
Can you imagine not even the priests could minister? I know you must be thinking how can I go from speaking about the first church in the book of Acts and then go to the Old Testament. That’s ok. Let me explain. I believe this is a prophetic picture of what God wants to do in the New Testament. God wants to take complete control of the services. I don’t know exactly what this looks like but I know God is glorified. This might kill our pride to know that we have no program that can control this. Let’s allow God to move however He wants in our churches.
I don’t know about you but I desire the church that God desires. I want to be a part of His church. I don’t want people to come to my church if God Himself doesn’t show up. God’s calling us to greater dimensions. It’s time we call on God to bring us back to His principles and outline for the church. Let’s yield ourselves, our ministries and our churches to Him.
I’m sure this will bring more people into His Kingdom. It will be much more effective than the shirt I mentioned at the beginning. Let’s see God move in our lifetime. Don’t let another generation pass without seeing His Glory!
Founder of House of Refuge Street Ministries
His book entitled, Time: Don’t let it Kill You” won a publishing contest and soon will be released by Word Alive Press.