Much to my surprise, I once heard a pastor say, "You would be better off going to a football game on Sunday morning than some churches." Just what was his point? He was not downplaying the need for church attendance in any way, but was making the insightful point that a less than biblical church can be dangerous for your spiritual health. On the other hand, a church that honors Jesus Christ is a wonderful place where lives are transformed and spiritual stability abounds!
By highlighting ten distinguishing marks of faithfulness, this brochure is designed to assist you in understanding God's design for His Church. Because these marks are clearly given in Scripture, only brief explanation is offered in this brochure.
Further detail is available in the three part tape series of this same title through the ministry of Omaha Bible Church.
Pat Abendroth, Senior Pastor
Mark 1: The Glory of God is the Supreme Goal
"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).
This goal should permeate all areas of ministry. It means that everything is done with the intention of pleasing the Lord.
Mark 2: The Bible is Sufficient
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The profound reality of these verses must find their way not only into the doctrinal statement, but must also impact the way practical ministry is carried out. If the Bible is sufficient as it claims to be, then it and it alone must be the authority in evangelism, preaching, counseling, church government, etc.
Mark 3: The Bible is Proclaimed
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
In an age where story telling, drama, and humor are substituted for preaching the Bible, this command is a fitting reminder of the priority God places on preaching His Word -- the Bible. If the people of God are going to do the will of God, they must hear the Word of God from the man of God.
Mark 4: The Gospel is Pure
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Being "the power of God for salvation," the gospel believed and proclaimed in a faithful church must be the biblical gospel. The New Testament is clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone.
Mark 5: The Great Commission is Prioritized
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Faithfulness here must be a compelling force in every church desiring to be true to the Lord.
Mark 6: The People are Devoted to Prayer
"They were continually devoting themselves to prayer" (Acts 2:42).
Just as the early church expressed their reliance upon God for spiritual empowerment, so must the church of the 21st century.
Mark 7: The Members Demonstrate Sacrificial Love
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).
According to Jesus, it is the love of believers that sets them apart. From this sacrificial love comes the healthy body-life of the church family.
Mark 8: The Leadership is Biblically Qualified
"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:5-9).
These are God's qualifications for His Church. Faithfulness requires us to maintain this divine standard.
Mark 9: The Members are Accountable
"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector? (Matthew 18:15-17).
This four-step accountability plan is as essential as it is clear. God has always and will always desire a pure church. Though these verses are seldom mentioned and even less often practiced, anything less reveals unfaithfulness to Christ's plan for the Church.
Mark 10: The Believers are Equipped for Spiritual Service
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12).
To be faithful to God's plan for ministry is not to have pastors doing the ministry for the people, but to have pastors equipping the people for the ministry! When this happens, the entire church family is involved, significant ministry is shared, and the church is effectively doing the will of God.
May God help us in our pursuit of faithfulness.