What do you look for in a strong congregation? The scriptures teach that a congregation is made up Christians in a local area who assemble to worship and to work together. Revelations 3:1 calls the church in Laodicea dead and in 3:16 is lukewarm. None of us want to be in dead or lukewarm congregations, so what sets apart a strong congregation from a dead one?
They Love God
The first and foremost characteristic of a strong congregation is when it’s composed of Christians who, “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” [Mark 12:30]
The most powerful and effective motivation to obey God’s word is a sincere and deep love of God.
They Love God’s Word
A strong congregation loves God, therefore also loves His word. When I speak to “religious” people, one thing I notice is the lack of knowledge of God’s word and His patterns.
Weak congregations are short on giving; “…attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” [1Timothy 4:13] Strong congregations consider FIRST what the will of the Lord is from His divine Word, for it is the truth; [John 17:17]. This enables them to worship in truth [John 4:24], Teach the truth [1Timothy 1:3] and do His work according to the divine pattern [Ephesians 4:12].
They Rejoice in the Lord
When a strong congregation loves God and His word, they will rejoice despite the difficulties that come from living on this side of the Judgement.
Paul warned the early Christians that life was tough, and not many others had a more difficult time than he. The Lord teaches, through Paul, to be content regardless of circumstance. [Philippians 4:11-13] The Lord also taught us to be prepared for trials that every Christian will face and to rejoice. [James 1:2; 1Peter 4:12]
It is Growing and Working
Every congregation has folks that are at varying levels of their maturity. There are new converts, babes in Christ, some more mature, some struggling and overcoming sins and still others that are strong in their faith. [1Corintheans 8:12-31]
All of them, doing their own part in the body [Ephesians 4:11-12], are growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord [2Peter 3:18], so that the body grows [Ephesians 4:16], always abounding in the work of the Lord. [1Corintheans 15:58]
It Follows the New Testament Pattern of organization
A strong congregation is striving to attain and to follow the New Testament pattern for its organization. [Philippians 1:1]
They have or are qualifying men to oversee as elders [Acts 20:17; 1Timothy 3:1-7; 1Peter 5:1-2], doing the same regarding deacons to serve under elders, [1Timothy 3:8-13]. In whichever state, the strong congregation has faithful men to see that the work of the Lord is accomplished never losing sight of the ideal.
The strong congregation never waits. It continues to be zealous for good works [Titus 2:14; Revelations 3:19]. They want to be found doing and increasing in the Lord’s work [Matthew 25:14-30], never burying their talents or content with just getting themselves to heaven, because they want to others to be saved also [2Timothy 2:2].
What About the Church in Borger?
I bet, that as you read this article, you were also thinking about our congregation. I believe that we have a strong congregation. Perhaps not like the church in Smyrna which the Lord had nothing negative to say [Rev 2:8], but one that has the ability to overcome what is lacking [Revelations 2:7].
I feel that we are strong because we love God and His word, we rejoice and help each other during difficult times. We all desire for the truth to grow in Borger and that folks respond to the Gospel. I am grateful to you and to God for this local congregation.
That’s just my opinion, but what do you think? If you were to rate our congregation on a scale of 1-10, what number would you give us? If it’s not a 10 for being the best, why not? More importantly, what are you doing to change it?