Hallmarks of a Good Church (iv)

Titus 2:1 “But as you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

We conclude our series on the Hallmarks of a Good church. Four components that comprise and characterize a good church. They are: (1) Solid Biblical teaching; (2) Good leadership; (3) Caring and close fellowship; (4) Vision. Look at vision.

Multiplied times in Titus we find the word “sound.” Our verse today says, “sound doctrine.” Older men were to be “sound in faith” (2:2). Then there is “sound in speech” (2:8). Sound. Among conservative brethren the idea of a “sound” church focuses upon what a church can or cannot do with it’s money. Folks will say that a church is sound, simply because of what they don’t do with the money. Nothing else matters, it’s sound. It may be sound asleep, but it’s sound.

The word “sound” means healthy. It has nothing to do with money. We understand this concept in other areas. Wen making out a will, a person must be of “sound mind.” That means, he is thinking capably on his own. A sound church is a healthy church. A sound church is a good church. It will stand upon solid Biblical teaching, be led by godly leaders, be close and connected to one another and it will be visionary. A church may be as conservative as it can be but that does not mean that it is healthy. A church can be against everything wrong, while it is doing very little to reach the community, encourage their own and walk with the Lord. It reminds me of a guy who was trying to define what a Christian is. He said, “A Christian doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t cheat. He doesn’t lie.” After several of these, his friends asked, “What then does a Christian do?” Our platform isn’t what we are against, but rather, what we are for. Life is in Christ. Hope is in Christ. Forgiveness is in Christ. We preach Christ.

A good church has vision, that wonderful ability to see beyond the horizon. To look out five years and beyond. To see, if we roll the calendar ahead ten years, who will be among us? What will this church look like in ten years? That thought shapes the plans that a church makes. What classes ought to be offered? Just march through the Bible verse by verse, year by year? Some do and that works for some. Others look to needs and try to head off things that the members may face. Instead of waiting for problems and then following them with a broom to sweep them up, visionary leaders, anticipate and teach to try to keep the problems from happening.

Visionary thinking will look at new ways to reach the lost. Door knocking once worked. It still does in a few places. Most times today, if someone knocked on a door, the response is, “WHAT?” Social media seems to be a way that is a good way to contact people today. Reach out on Facebook and Twitter. Put yourself in the place of someone today who is “unchurched.” What are they thinking? What’s keeping them up at night? What are they concerned abouit? Right thee, you have a list for sermons, special lessons and a way to try to connect with people. Stand in the entry way of the church building with the eyes of what a visitor may see. Is it attractive and friendly? Are things such as bathrooms, easy to find? Where’s the classrooms? Visionary.

Look down the road. When adding on to a building, be thinking down the road. When buying property for a building, be thinking down the road. Don’t’ just get by for today. Become visionary. The church at Antioch, through the Holy Spirit, sent Barnabas and Paul out to preach. Imagine a church doing that today! Instead of waiting for a preacher to send letters wanting money, suppose a church had the vision to send a preacher to a specific place to evangelize. Imagine this being driven by a church and not a preacher.

I asked a group of elder once what their future plans were. They immediately said, “Get as big as we can.” I told them that was awesome. I then asked them how were they going to accomplish that. There was silence. There is a difference between a dream and a goal. In the 1960’s President Kennedy set the goal of putting a man on the moon before the decade ended. Things god busy, very busy. Engineers started drawing. Pilots became astronauts. There was intense training. Rockets were built. Things were tested. Thee were many failures. A ton of money was poured into those projects. In 1969, two Americans walked on the moon. The goal was accomplished. It was hard, expensive but worth it.

Churches ought to have goals. It may be hard. It may be expensive. It may take a tone of people to accomplish it. But without goals and without visions we tend to be stuck and become stale. Challenges are good. They are good for athletes. They are good for kids. They are good for students. They are good for churches. Don’t settle for what is easy. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Put thought and plans into what you are doing. Ask yourselves, “Why?” A church is going to have a fall gospel meeting. “Why?” What are you hoping to accomplish? What’s the purpose of this? Nothing wrong with fall gospel meetings, but there ought to be a reason for it. If you can’t answer those questions, then it might be time to pull back and rethink what you are doing. Is it to encourage the church? Great. Let the visiting preacher know that. Is it to bring friends who are not Christians? Great. Let the visiting preacher know that. Focus. Plans. Intentions. Goals.

A good question to ask is: “Are the best days behind us, or, ahead of us?” Your answer to that will determine how serious you are about goals and vision. I have found something about vision. Once it spreads throughout a church, ideas start flowing. Deacons come up with wonderful ways of doing things. Shepherds come up with amazing plans. Members see things in other places and share them. Things start happening. It’s wonderful.

A good church. It’s not based on the size, the location, or the building. It’s found in Biblical teaching, godly leadership, loving members and having goals and visions. A good church follows Jesus!

Part I: A Good Church
Part II: Hallmarks of a Good Church (ii)
Part III: Hallmarks of a Good Church (iii)