Seven Characteristics of a Kingdom Focused Church

February 4, 2018

Summary

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The title of my message today is “The Seven Characteristics of a Kingdom Focused Church”. This is something I have been thinking about over my break.

As a church we had a great year last year. Just to refresh our memories. On a Sunday morning our attendance last year averaged between 25 and 42 each Sunday and in November and December we averaged 36. According to church sizes worldwide, this takes us into a medium sized church in our context! We had lots of Bible teaching in our sermons. Our groups (KYB, O12s, Craft) during the week went really well and I saw people growing in their faith. We had people making a difference in the community via the men’s shed, the craft group and volunteering at the hospital and other places. We had people teaching CRE at the school. New people joined the worship team. And our website had well over 20,000 visitors for the year.

This year I want us to keep focussed on the Kingdom and for us to keep moving forward. So, this message is about doing this. I want to remind us of the things that will help us to keep the momentum going and move further into God’s will. Now these are not things that you have never heard before. But I am putting them all together in one place to give us a vision or a road map. One that we can come back to and measure how we are going.

But before I go any further, I want to pray and ask God to bless this message. 

Characteristic 1- Bible believing church

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  17 God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.

All Scripture is God breathed. This means He gives it life and power. He inspired the writers to record what He wanted for us today. The Bible as we know is our guide book for life. It has all we need to know about living a godly life, it teaches us about God, and the salvation we have in Christ. So as a church we need to continue to be a Bible believing church.

I read a description of the New Testament from a book I got for Bible college. It is titled, “What the Bible is all about” by Bible scholar Dr Henrietta Mears. It says…

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell of Christ, His life they trace;
Acts show the Holy Spirit’s work; And Romans shows how we are saved by grace.
Corinthians instructs the church, Galatians shows God’s grace alone;
Ephesians, how we are “in Christ”, Philippians, Christ’s joy is made known.
Colossians portrays Christ exalted. And Thessalonians tells the end.
In Timothy and Titus both, Are rules for Pastors to attend.
Philemon pictures charity, Thirteen epistles penned by Paul.
The Jewish law prefigured Christ; And Hebrews clearly show it all.
James show that faith by works must live, And Peter urges steadfastness,
While John exhorts Christian love; And those who live it God will bless.
Jude show the end of evil men, While Revelations tells of heaven.
These end the whole New Testament, In all, they number twenty-seven.

There is so much truth in the Bible. We can spend our whole lives reading and studying the Word and we will only ever scratch the surface.

A focussed church is a Bible believing church. 

Characteristic 2- Christ centred church

Romans 5:1-2, 5-6 – Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory…

5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.  6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Jesus did it all for us. We need to be Christ centred as individuals and Christ centred as a church. 

Jesus is our all in all (Galatians 1), He is our Lord and Saviour (2 Peter 1:11). He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8). He is the Holy one of God (Mark 1:24). Jesus is supreme over all (Romans 9:5). He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). He is the light of the world (John 8:12). Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Nothing can separate us from God’s love because of Christ (Romans 8:39). These are but a few names of Christ. I could go on all day about who Jesus is and I still wouldn’t be able to come close to describing all Jesus is to us.

A focussed church is a Christ centred church. 

Characteristic 3 – A praying church

Ephesians 6:18 – Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

James 5:16b –  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Two great verses. If you were to summaries them it would be – prayer continuously, because prayer is powerful!

I find it interesting that in Mark 11 when Jesus entered the Temple area and saw all the money changers, He became angry and turned over the tables. He said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Jesus’ heart for the church is that it would be a place of prayer.

My heart for this year is that we will have a regular time of prayer during the week where we can come and lift our hearts and voices to God in prayer. We can pray for our church, our families, our community, our fellow believers, ourselves. At this stage I am thinking about a Thursday lunch time prayer time. Where the church is open from 12-1 and if you are available you can come in and pray. If you want to pray with others you can. If you want to sit quietly by yourself, you can. I really believe that prayer is the engine room of the church.

I have been involved with churches who made prayer a priority and things happened. Breakthroughs took place. People grew in their faith. Lives we changed. People were saved. One church in Merredin had a 24/7 prayer meeting for a week. People were slotted in all through the day and night in sections of one hour. And guess what things happened. Maybe this year we could do a 24-hour prayer meeting ourselves?

A focussed church is a praying church. 

Characteristic 4 – A serving church

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.

1 Peter 4:10 – God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Jesus came to be a servant. He gave His life as a ransom for many. It was the Father’s will to save us through His Son. And Jesus took on that servant role. For us now it is important that we see ourselves as God’s servants. We serve God by serving others. When I am at home looking after my family, I see myself as a servant. When I am at work at the hospital ordering medical supplies, I see myself as a servant. When I am at church working amongst you, I see myself as a servant. It doesn’t matter if we are talking after church, if I am preaching a sermon, if I am washing the dishes after Bible study, I am a servant.

The life of Jesus is our model to follow. Jesus is our example. His life is our blue print. Servant hood is what He wants and expects from us. That is why He said “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). He said this just before He told that He would give His life for a ransom for many.

A focussed church is a serving church. 

Characteristic 5 – A Spirit empowered church

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.  5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us, so we can help each other.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

If you have been around church for a while, you have heard these verses many times. They contain truth that we need to grasp and put into practice. We need to live by the power of the Spirit in this life. The Spirit was there at creation, the Spirit empowered people in the Old Testament, the Spirit was evident in Christ’s life, the Spirit empowered the Apostles. This same Spirit lives inside of you (Romans 8:11). You are a temple of the Holy Spirit by yourself (1 Corinthians 6:19) when you are alone. When we come together, we are a Temple of the Holy Spirit too. Ephesians 2:22 it says, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit”.

In this place – God’s House, we do spiritual work. We need to rely on God’s Holy Spirit to empower us and produce fruit. We can only get so far in our own strength and natural talents. We will eventually burn out. But if we live by the Spirit’s power we will have an endless source of power, wisdom, strength, and anointing to do God’s work in this place. The well will never run dry.

A focussed church, is a Spirit empowered church. 

Characteristic 6 – A loving church

Matthew 22:37-40 – Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment.  39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

John 13:34-35 – So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”

These two great passages instruct us on our how we should love. Our love must be vertical between ourselves and God. We must love God with every fibre of our beings. Our love should also be horizontal. We must love our neighbour as ourselves. Loving our neighbours as ourselves means to look after them, to care for them, to bless them. My goal is to leave people better than when I found them.

Loving one another in church is also very important. Jesus said that the world will see our love, and they will be so impressed by it, that they will see our faith is true. People will know we belong to Jesus and follow Him because of our love for one another. One of the things that drew me to this church was the love you have for each other. It didn’t take me long to see it and experience it. My hope is that in 2018 new people will come in and see this love, they will be so taken by it, that they will look to Christ for their own salvation.

A focussed church, is a loving church. 

Characteristic 7 – A missional church

Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In one of my sermons in December I talked about the all-consuming call. It touched on this verse and Mark 16:15 which tells us to go and preach the Good News. We saw in that message that the call had four main aspects.

  1. Jesus has ALL Authority in heaven and on earth
  2. Jesus told us to go into ALL the world and make disciples
  3. Jesus told us to teach them to obey ALL His teachings
  4. Jesus promises to be ALL-ways with us

In this message we saw the importance of being missional as individuals and as churches. God gave us a mission to reach people for Christ and teach them to obey His teachings. And He promised to be with us always. By His presence and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we see Christ’s Kingdom come as we share our faith.

Since I have been back at the hospital I have had a number of conversations with people who have either asked about my role here at church or about my faith. Two have even shared deep struggles and asked me to pray for them. This is in just three weeks! This is a big reason why I believe God wants me back there. To be a servant and be a Christian presence.

For us to keep growing as a church, we need to be a missional church.

Closing summary

Today we have looked at the Seven Characteristics of a Kingdom Focused Church. As I said I am hoping this will help us to keep focused on our mission and moving further into God’s will for us as individuals and as a church. The Seven Characteristics of a Kingdom Focused Church were…

  1. A Bible Believing church
  2. A Christ centred church
  3. A praying church
  4. A serving church
  5. A Spirit empowered church
  6. A loving church
  7. A missional church

Amen.