The Church is likened to a growing family, a dependant flock, a functioning body, branches in a flourishing vine and as well as other metaphors. Churches start out small and many of them grow much bigger and some cease to exist for a variety of reasons some good and some bad. There are no foolproof methods or slick formulas or wonderful plans that can make it happen. God brings it into being and adds to it, as He will. Acts 2:47
God is much better at building His Church than we are. He is not particularly interested in increasing but in changing lives. In the life of every Church there are growing pains and problems we are to work through with Godly insight and wisdom. The birth of a local church is just as supernatural as the church worldwide. They are both interconnected, but the local church is a group of born again Christians who, in the providence of God, are called to witness and live for Him in a local community
They were of ‘one mind’ Act 1:14 , and were all – together in one place Acts 2:1.
Even though they were from married backgrounds, ages, temperaments and cultures, despite their differences they became one
Conversion leads individuals into a fellowship of a group of believers, called the Church. It is not a building. It is distinct from the world. Christ owns it.
Each Church was automous and self-governing in their own affairs.
Unity in Diversity
Mature leaders in the assembly will be aware of the diversity of gifts, expressions of opinion, functions of service and they will develop Godly wisdom in the affairs of the church. They should also teach the congregation how to be mature in their attitudes towards others in the church, as well as people in different churches.
Leadership must agree on what doctrines, what their church government is, how they should discipline worship format
Other areas of importance are,
1. The Lord’s Table – What, When, How we do it is described in Scripture.
2. Believer’s Baptism
Some moral and doctrinal issues must be agreed on, positions on Divorce, Remarriage, Abortion, Discipline, Ecumenism, etc.
The early Church met for worship and instruction and fellowship then carried it out unto the streets. They had a contagious lifestyle and many the whole worlds took notice of them that they had been with Jesus. What a wonderful testimony, we should be infected wit h such enthusiasm, commitment and tireless action. No gimmicks can put the fire of God in our bosoms, but He can. A discipleship that does not cost, not bearing your cross daily, will never make an impression on this world.
There three types of Church Government:
A/ EPISCOPAL – this is a Monarchal system where the authority resides in the Bishop. This heirachal system has different levels of ministers and degrees of ordination.
B) PRESBYTERIAN – This is system puts the authority in the office of elders not so much the person. Acts 11:30 , 14:23 , Eph.4: 11-12, 1 Tim. 5:17. Individual believers acknowledge and delegate representatives. The power lies in a group of elders, not one man.
C/ CONGREGATIONAL- The individual process. Every man exercises authority. In this democracy decisions are made within interchurch associations on a representative basis. Every person has an input in its affairs.
There are Godly leaders in all these systems and the qualities of the leader are more important than the government.
Good Shepherds feed the sheep, promote growth and vision, correct false teaching and views. Sheep need someone to lead them, they tend to get lost, and go of on their own after a piece of greener grass only to find themselves caught in a trap, caught by a wolf and have no protection. Isa. 53:6 Stray sheep need to be led back to the fold. Sheep are defenceless, no claws, no sharp teeth, no loud roar, they are easy prey. When they sense danger they stay close to the shepherds or the poor timid sheep panic. We need the shepherd’s wisdom.
Sheep know the voice of the shepherd. Jn.10: 4
Shepherds are essential for the sheep’s survival and to guide them to good pastures. The shepherd cares for his sheep and leads his sheep. Jn.10: 10 they watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. Acts 20:28-31. Shepherds serve the sheep not themselves. They don’t fleece the flock for their own gain. Ezk. 34:2-3
Shepherds pay close attention to sheep that need special care. Ezk. 34:4-6 they do not manipulate nor heavily control the sheep and step on them instead of giving them love, care and protection.
God is the Shepherd that will never abandon you. Ezk. 34:7-16
Shepherds have the right attitude and motivation for the sheep. 1Pet. 5:1-2
Shepherds are a good example to the sheep. Vs3-4
FOUR FUNCTIONS OF THE CHURCH
Since we are under Christ’s rule we are obligated to do things His way. Jn.14: 15
1/ EVANGELISM. This is a command not an option. [Matt.28: 19, Acts 1:8]
A/ Jerusalem is our immediate area.
B/ Judea are those other groups of people who may behave various customs a in the next town or county.
C/ Samaria are those with whom we have conflict and difficulty. It could be another religion or political persuasion.
D/ “the ends of the earth” means no geographical restrictions and involves missionary endeavour.
2/ EDIFICATION. This concentrates on believers. Eph.4: 12-16, Cor.12: 17&26, 14:1-5
All gifts are given to build up and not to tear down. Here are some ways of building up. Instruction and teaching, God gave the gift of Pastor[s] / teacher[s] to build us up, equip us, feed us, protect us and correct us. The Lord’s Table brings us into a closer place with Him. Prayer is where we can bring our requests to together before God. Fellowship is sharing our lives together, our hurts and burdens, our blessings and joys. “ If any member suffers, all suffer; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” 1 Cor. 12:26,Gal. 6:2. Sometimes we may lovingly correct and rebuke one another in a loving fashion but not intentionally to hurt. The pattern for discipline in the fellowship was clearly laid out by Jesus. Matt. 18:15-17
3/ Worship. This concentrates on the Lord. He tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Heb. 10:25
We must be open enough to ask ourselves is this the best way to worship, are we meeting needs or mounting numbers, being true to the scriptures, are we still willing to learn? God and His Word do not change but we may change our methods and do thing s better and look at new ideas. When we worship it includes prayers, songs, teaching, thanksgiving and giving, various one may take part.
There are many gifted people in the Church ( 1 Cor.12:14-20).
The people in the Church are interdependent (Vs 21-26).
There is no exclusiveness, all are included (Vs 27).
4/ Social Concerns. Christians take their care and compassion into the community at large. Our Lord was concerned with peoples concerns and sufferings. Internally we are to care for church members. Jas. 1:27 , 2:15 -17, 1Jn.3: 17-18
Externally we are to care for our neighbours and those who are without.