My heart's desire for the Church is that she would thrive! I pray for pastors and their families on a daily basis for their personal spiritual health, for their physical health, for every need to be met, and for their home to be filled with the joy and peace of the Lord.
By nature I am an observer. I enjoy studying...at the top of my list is my Bible, followed by commentaries, and well written books. I also enjoy studying life. For example, nothing compares with observing the hummingbirds as they visit our feeders to enjoy a breakfast of homemade nectar while I'm sitting on our front porch with a hot cup of coffee in one hand and my Bible in the other. God's creation has an overwhelming affect on me! We have grown quite fond of the Tennessee hills!
In addition, I study and observe mechanical things to see how they work. And...I'll admit it, I study people. I have an interest in seeing what makes them tick, their mannerisms, choice of words, and the affect they have on the people around them...this applies to country folk, small town folk, big city folk and everyone in between.
One thing I desire to express is the fact that I have a great love for the Church! As a result, I prayerfully study her. Not with a critical or negative spirit, but for the purpose found in the opening sentence of this article; it bears repeating, "My heart's desire for the Church is that she would thrive!" The Church is a living body! I am thankful for every local church who enters the presence of the Lord to worship, where the word of God is preached in love and truth, and the saints are equipped for every good work! When the Holy Spirit reigns in the leadership, the congregation, and in daily affairs, souls are saved, lives are transformed, and Jesus is lifted up! To God be all the glory, honor, and praise!
Like any "body", there are areas of weakness. There are struggling churches throughout our country, not specific to any particular denomination. In most cases this happens because we lose our identity. We begin comparing ourselves with the church down the street or across town. Some folks see churches on television and start thinking this is the true picture of success. I have observed three categories that are more evident in what today's church has become her identity is blurred: 1. It becomes a show. 2. It becomes a religious or ritualistic, lifeless gathering. 3. It becomes a civic organization (primarily focused on dinners, events, and business meetings).
In view of these things, my desire is to encourage the church to "encourage the Church" (you may want to read the previous sentence one more time to grab hold of the point I am making). As the Body of Christ, as His Church we are responsible to lift up and encourage one another. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." (NKJV)
The responsibility to reclaim the Biblical Identity of the Church doesn't rest solely upon pastors, we all are individually responsible as we live a devoted Christian life, diligently seeking Jesus first in all things. Paul gives us great insight in Ephesians 4:14-16 (NKJV), "We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ-from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."
In conclusion, I invite you to come alongside me in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Together let us strive to be a living, prayerful, encouraging member of the Body of Christ more now than ever before!
Be encouraged! Our best days are yet to come as we draw closer to the return of Jesus!