Charles Swindoll, the voice behind the ministry, Insight for Living, is also an accomplished author. I am enrolled for my M.A. in seminary and am pastoring a church that has a desire to grow and evangelize the town of Mulvane, Kansas. The arrival of the book by Charles Swindoll, The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal was perfect in timing. This book shows how you can make your church contagious…so much so that people just can’t stay away. I devoured the book in less than a week and so I am paraphrasing what this fine piece of literature is and I highly recommend it.
The book clearly points out what is wrong with many churches in America today. The church is attempting to market Jesus basically. Bigger churches don’t mean better. God is not concerned with size but with the heart of the believers, no matter what size the church is. Mr. Swindoll points out that there must be a strong commitment to doing what the Bible says, and not doing what people want, not doing what other churches are doing (p. 9).
Jesus told Peter that “I will build my church” and that the gates of Hades will not erode it or erase it. Jesus is the Architect, the Originator and He alone is the Head of it. Build is to suggest an ongoing process (p. 11). Is Jesus the Head of your church? Does He have preeminence in it or have many churches drifted to a consumerism mentality? The church is a called out body of believers, called out from the world and distinctive from it. Its unique purpose is to glorify the Savior. Jesus was not talking about a building and He had no denomination in mind when He said He would build it (p.12).
The church began when the Holy Spirit came and the boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Savior in Acts 1 and 2 (p. 13). The church is built on hearing of Jesus Christ and that He died for our sins and then you believe in Him (p. 13). There are four essentials that every church must have in order to endure. Christian churches are like people…they come to life, live a life and sometimes die. But the church Jesus builds is always in existence. What are these four essentials? They are found in Acts 2:42.
The four essentials are not only essential, but prescriptive of what all churches must do. In Acts 2:42, they are teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (p. 15).
A church must always be continually devoted to the teaching of the sacred scriptures. A church that teaches from the Word establishes deep roots that provide nourishment and stability.
Fellowship represents close relationships that involve sharing life with one another, the bad times as well as the good (p. 15).
The breaking of bread refers to the Lord’s Table. Baptism and the Lord’s Table represent our conversion to Christ. An acceptable, all-inclusive term would be worship (p. 16).
For a church to be the kind to be the kind of church Jesus promised to build, there must be prayer.
You simply can not have a church if you take away any of these four essential in Acts 2:42). You can have more, certainly, but no less than these four constitute something less that a true church of Jesus Christ.
Hold to these four essentials, and then add these three principles and three imperatives.
The first principle is the most important. There must be clear, biblical thinking that overrides secular planning and a corporate mentality. There has to be a priority of biblical, rather than secular thinking (p. 18).
A second principle is that studied, accurate decisions must originate from God’s Word, not human opinions. A true, spiritual mind-set comes from meditation of the Scriptures. The imperative would be to stay biblical (p. 19). The Word of God ought to be central to every worship service on Sunday, every meeting, every activity of the church. God’s Word is to be the church’s guide as it shapes our current thinking and future planning by giving us principles we can understand, believe, and apply (p. 19).
If the church was doing what it is supposed to be doing, people could not stay out. Curiosity would bring them in. They would witness our love and our excitement and think, they’ve got something special there that the world doesn’t have (p. 19). A.W. Tozer said that “The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God…(p. 19).
As wise and intelligent as human opinions are, the church isn’t guided by the thinking of any fallen human beings (thank God, literally). This includes the pastor. Christ is the Head. Our thinking should be shaped by a study of Scriptures; God’s thinking (p.20).
A third principle is that wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion. Being flexible is a must (p. 20).
It isn’t enough to have the four essentials. We must continually devote ourselves to them. To continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of doing so; despite difficulty (p. 21).
An excerpt from Charles Swindoll’s book called The Church Awakening, An Urgent Call for Renewal. Copyright, 2010. Faithwords Publishing, New York. ISBN-13 978-0-446-55653-8
Originally published on: Jack Wellman Blogspot