bits from bob....

Model Churches

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Every church situation is different. The challenges, opportunities, and ministries of every church are unique. Paul wrote that God will be honored through the church in all generations (Eph. 3:21). The churches we read about in the New Testament were imperfect and had problems, but God can be honored through the church—even in its weakness. These two factors—that every church is unique and that God is honored through the church—suggest to me a question. How can the local church become a model church that honors God?

Below I suggest some characteristics of a model church. Some churches will not have all of these characteristics due to their circumstances. These are goals to consider. Some of the best examples of model churches today are in Latin America.

  • The model church is diverse, and models and manages that diversity well. The model church is integrated and models healthy interactions across ethic, social, and economic lines. The model church models healthy fellowship at many different levels.
  • The model church is a nurturing community of spiritual life, where people are transformed into the image of Christ.
  • The model church is characterized by church leaders who are capable of and enjoy teaching the word of God. The model church has a strong Bible teaching program, both from the standpoint of the teachers and offerings and from the standpoint of the number of members and non-members who participate and are touched and growing spiritually through the teaching.
  • The model church is caring and evangelistic. The church should be reconciling people to God every week, both in outreach and in renewed Christian commitments from those who struggle and stray.
  • The model church is involved in planting and strengthening other churches, beginning in its own backyard.
  • The model church is involved in taking the gospel around the world.
  • The model church has healthy relationships with sister congregations, working together in unity in a dark world.
  • The model church has elders who willingly and carefully shepherd the flock, touching those who struggle, overcoming the challenge to manage by empowering others to lead ministries, fully engaged in the life of the community.
  • The model church is characterized by preaching and preachers that know how to effectively work in exposition of the word, ministry to the saints, and ministry in the larger community. Such ministers attract the admiration of the church and its young people so that the ministry training begins in the local church, and the local church is a continuing source for producing qualified, capable preachers. Ministry education is encouraged and continues both formally and informally, resulting in an army of vocational ministers who work in church planting and spiritual renewal.

    The more commonly seen situation should give us cause for concern. The stark reality among many churches is more like the following.

  • The church has very little interest in becoming a nurturing community focused on the spiritual life.
  • Attendance is sporadic, Bible classes are poorly attended, and church involvement is defined mostly or totally by Sunday morning worship attendance.
  • Very little local evangelism is occurring; few souls are being added to the kingdom.
  • The church has few funds for outreach or missions, since funds are spent internally to try to shore up the sagging infrastructure.
  • Elders manage the church rather than leading it.
  • Leaders allow the urgent to steal their energy and have little time, inclination, or awareness of tasks like shepherding and mentoring.
  • Ministry tensions leave preachers needing survival skills more than training for long-term ministry in the word.
  • The net result is that the church attendance is plateaued or declining.

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    Last updated May 7, 2012