Growing up in a pastor’s home and going to school on both coasts I’ve seen my share of churches and church shoppers. I’ve belonged to churches ranging from 8,000 members to 26. I’ve been in churches that will change your oil while you worship and churches that are as blustery and cold as, well, the blizzard of 2010. I’ve known churches that don’t allow their speakers to wear ties and others that hand out head coverings to visiting women. Bottom line, if you have a spiritual sweet tooth America is your candy store.
Now, I don’t know about you but I could care less about smells, bells, jazzy choirs and slap-happy door greeters. I want the truth. I want what’s real. Someday you’re going to be lying on a hospital bed with beeping monitors and whispering doctors. You won’t care about the wall-paper at that point. You’ll want a doctor who will level with you. You’ll want honesty. If we want that for our body how much more important is the soul?
When the cold fog of death chills your bones esthetics, funny preachers and programs won’t mean much then. What will mean EVERYTHING is knowing what God really thinks about you. And that only comes from God’s Word.
When I look in Scripture I see several defining qualities of a true church. Here are three of the more neglected qualities. Without these qualities a church is like a barking parrot—only imitating what it can never be.
1.A true church engages in biblical edification. Edify means you’re built up by the Word of God. Some people think that simply by feeling good as they worship they are being edified. But the crowd jumping and shouting “Hosanna!” when Jesus entered Jerusalem felt pretty good too. Four day later they were shouting “crucify him!” Feeling good is not necessarily edification.
Edification means “to build up.” Spiritually that means the church comes alongside you in such a way that they help you overcome sin (which means they have to be willing to confront sin), they show you how to study God’s Word for personal growth, etc (Eph. 4:15-16; I Tim. 4:11; Gal. 6:1). Biblical edification requires discipleship, teaching, accountability, conviction, etc. This is what the early church was all about. A church that wants to build God’s