bits from bob....

The DNA of the Church where the Spirit Dwells

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

The church where the Spirit dwells has vision. The church must have a vision bigger than it is. The church living out the presence of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a church that can by faith see the unseen and make visible the invisible. This church has a healthy view of reality. It also sees the future and its possibilities through the lens of God's eternal purpose (Eph. 1:9-19a).
Further, it takes the initiative and actively pursues that vision with God's power. This may involve establishing a dependable place to meet in the early years of the church, but the vision of the church must be bigger than the church building. The vision of the church must be sacrificially large, that is, the vision must be big enough to require sacrifice on the part of the church members. In a healthy Spirit-filled church, the vision is renewed continually, recognizing that new opportunities present new challenges and new goals.

The church where the Spirit dwells is united. Unity is a part of the DNA of a church where the Spirit dwells. Paul urged the church in Ephesus to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Unity is an intentional effort. Conflicts are natural, perhaps even unavoidable. There will be disagreements, differences of interpretation and understanding. Such is natural because the church is composed of many members with different experiences, education, backgrounds, and needs. The successful church learns intentionality, and grows according to God's plan in unity, the stature of Christ, and the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:1-16).
The unity of the church is lived out in an atmosphere of genuine, transparent, vulnerable fellowship, where cohesiveness comes from the presence of God through his Spirit and not through physical, temporal shared interests. This church unites to share their spiritual life in Christ, encouraging one another, rescuing one another, seeking one another, caring for one another.

The church where the Spirit dwells has strong foundations in the Word of God. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). In many contemporary churches, the Bible has become virtually unnecessary. Church leaders and ministers urge members to read other books, study guides, and various books about the Bible rather than reading the Bible itself. No church can be strong without a foundation in Scripture. Too many churches desire to be Spirit-filled without being Scripture-filled. What God's word says must matter. Unless Christians know what the Bible says, they can hardly live lives of integrity and purpose consistent with God's plan.

The church where the Spirit dwells is evangelistic, caring about others, and has its eyes focused externally. The church where the Spirit dwells in interested in its influence. It desires that its influence be felt far and wide. This occurs first in the immediate area where the church exists, but ultimately reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth. The successful church has a global and local (glocal) world view. It has a worldview that is broad enough to see the need for the gospel around the world. The church filled with God's Spirit sees the world through the eyes of God and is ready, capable, and on the job to be God's presence in the world, sharing and living out a message of peace (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:19-22).

Finally, the successful church puts God first. The DNA code says it is about us more than it is about me, and it is supremely about God more than it is about us: "God, others, self." The identity of the church is found in Christ, not in any human matters or in self. This means that the church is not about the preferences or likes of any individual. All are concerned about the others. Each one belongs to the others, and thus submits to the others. This lack of selfishness and lack of individualism nurture an attitude toward Scripture that is narrow enough to please God and broad enough for all. God is at the center and he is the focus. Putting God first beckons the power and potential of God who energizes us and works within us to his glory, not to our glory (Eph. 3:14-21).

When a church works diligently with initiative, intentionality, integrity, expanding influence, and clear identity in Christ, it will succeed. Every successful church must be careful lest the "glory years complex" set in. Although a church may remember its past fondly, it must not live in the past. The future is where the action is. Thus, the successful church looks forward hopefully, buoyed by the presence of God's Spirit.

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Last updated March 25, 2011