A time for prayer
Church service today was moving. Justin, who is the Director of Music Ministry, played the flute amazingly, playing to the hymn COME BEHOLD THE WONDROUS MYSTERY.
I enjoy a service when you can walk away and have a wonderful feeling surround you. A feeling of encouragement and being uplifted. The pastor always ends service with a prayer and song of sending, which was beautiful today - All Glory Be to Christ (Tune: Auld Lang Syne).
I mentioned in a previous post that for years I have listened to a classical radio station that airs at least five church services every Sunday beginning as early as 7:30 AM. My daughter, who has also been listening to this station for years, texted me this morning, very upset and anxious, that the service that she woke up to left her with feelings of despair. 😔 Thankfully, I was able to give her a hug, send up a small prayer, and tell her services are usually not like that when they are the right ones. I wanted her to sleep for a while longer since she stayed up way too late last night.
I came across this article by Sarah Condie that mentions six signs of a healthy church. I have only been streaming church services from FWPC for a couple of months now, but I strongly feel that I can honestly say that this church would meet my expectations and match these healthy signs.
1. The heartbeat of God’s word.
Healthy churches exist for Christ and his honor, and therefore place God’s word at the center, seeking to live under it. They have faithful preaching that explains what the Bible says. Small groups gather to study God’s word, one of the marks of the early church (Acts 2:42). The New Testament is clear that the word of Christ grows people in maturity (1 Peter 1:22-2:3).
2. They recognize who they are—and aren’t—before God.
Healthy churches are filled with people who know they aren’t perfect, but who know God has chosen them for his purposes. When a newspaper asked the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” G.K. Chesterton responded with a letter that simply said, “Dear Sirs, I am.” This humble acknowledgement that our sin is real and God takes it seriously doesn’t lead to despair, but to thankfulness for the wonder of God’s grace. Christ forgives us, washes us clean and changes us.
3. Christian character matters.
Healthy churches seek to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). What matters most are not innovative programs or spectacular spiritual gifts, but Christ-like character that loves God and neighbor and displays the fruit of the Spirit through song, gratitude, prayer and deed.
4. They are family.
Healthy churches operate like a healthy family, sharing a common purpose and devotion. The New Testament has more than 135 references to our being “siblings” and 59 to our caring for “one another”! As God’s beloved family, a healthy church listens to one another, loves and prays for each other. They offer practical care when needed and every member is valued.
5. They look outward.
Healthy churches don’t just share the good news with the community; they are good news! That means they might offer practical ministries for the vulnerable or marginalized as well as instruction about Christianity, marriage or parenting skills. You get the idea. Stories of people welcomed, coming to faith, and encouraged to use their gifts to serve (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) are common as a result.
6. They know they belong.
Healthy churches are filled with men, women, and children confident they belong to God and his family. They regularly gather (Hebrews 10:24-25), knowing that despite their failings, God keeps calling them together.
I am going to let my daughter watch and listen to the service I attended online today, and I pray 🙏🏻 that she 'walks' away with a more uplifted spirit. Plus, I think seeing Justin play the flute will help, as she absolutely loves music!! 😉