Many of them said they’d read this column and wanted to hear me preach.
That’s appreciated, and anyone is welcome any time at Christian Fellowship.
Most of the visitors were already members of a church, but a few were in search of a church home.
A handful, though, were members of a church but seemed to be searching for “the perfect church” — one where everyone gets along all the time, where there are never any problems, where the pastor is funny and fatherly, where the hospitality crew cooks like Paula Deen, where the youth department has tons of activities for the children, where the members are active in the community and support all the pastor’s initiatives, and where you always leave satisfied.
First of all, that church doesn’t exist. But even if it did, it wouldn’t be perfect, because none of those things are what makes a church the institution that Christ calls his Bride.
Churches don’t miss perfection because they fall short of the above description. Churches miss perfection because they’re filled with imperfect men and women.
Your pastor might be a great guy, but he’s not perfect.
There’s no perfect church, but there are some good ones — based on principles, not programs.
• A good church must believe and teach that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16)
• A good church must believe and teach that God’s Holy Spirit caused Mary, a virgin, to conceive a child.
• A good church believes and teaches that Jesus is the Son of God and that he lived a sin-free life. (Hebrews 4:15)
• A good church believes and teaches that Jesus was falsely accused, falsely tried, falsely convicted and falsely crucified. (John 19:6)
• A good church believes and teaches that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and was buried, but that he rose bodily three days later, and is alive today in heaven.
• A good church believes and teaches that a person can go to heaven only by way of personal faith in that same Jesus. (Acts 4:12)
But believing all those things only makes a church good, not perfect.
The first church described in the book of Acts believed all those things, but even it wasn’t perfect because it was made up of imperfect people who sometimes argued amongst themselves about church issues. The events described in Acts are instructive for us today, but our only model should be Christ, not the first church.
It’s instructive for us that the first church recognized the importance of gathering routinely in song, prayer and teaching; the importance of sharing the gospel; caring for the physical and spiritual needs of the less fortunate; working to earn a living; communing with one another; and selecting godly leaders to handle the business of the church.
Still, they weren’t perfect.
There’s only one perfect church, and every Christian is a member of it. But we won’t see perfection until we see our Savior.
Anthony Cook is managing editor at The Star and pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church. Reach him at email@example.com or 256-235-3558.