What Do You Look For In A Church?

by May 22, 2017

What do you think of when you hear the word church? I was doing some research this week and as of mid last year it was estimated that 73% of Americans self identify as Christians. That’s 7 out of every 10 people in America say they’re Christians. But, only 3 in 10 attend a church at least twice a month. So the majority of self-identifying Christians don’t attend a church. There are 506 Costcos in America with 86 million members as of last year. There are over 300,000 churches in America with about 99 million regular attendees last year. But if churches made people show their membership cards at the door like Costco does, that number would drop.

What do you think about when you think about the church? Is it a good thing that adds some benefit to your life? A nice social club? A safe place for your kids to learn some morals? The letter to the Ephesians is all about Jesus, and it’s all about the church. Ephesians is all about the relationship of Jesus to the church, and relationships within the church. Paul either directly or indirectly mentions the church 25 times in this short letter. He really wanted the Ephesian church to see what it meant to BE the church. At the beginning and end of the letter, he gives 6 identifiers that he either saw or wanted to see more of in the church.

Changed Lives
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (1:1). The author of this letter calls himself an apostle, and identifies himself as “Paul.” His birth name was “Saul,” and he was a super religious dude who hated the church of Jesus followers. But when he met Jesus, his life radically changed. Jesus saved him, renamed him, and gave him a new love for the church that led him to spend the rest of his life planting and establishing churches. Paul saw other changed lives in the church. He addresses the letter, “To the saints.” He was writing to people who had gone from pagan Greeks to holy ones, set apart for God. The church is filled with people whose lives have changed. Is that something you look for in a church? Do you want it to be a place where your life will change? Or are you looking for a comfortable place where you can just be who you are? Changed lives are something we should expect to see in the church and experience ourselves.

True Friendship
So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts” (6:21-22). Tychicus was one of Paul’s travel companions who stuck with him through everything. Through shipwreck, through snake bites, through beatings, through imprisonment, Tychicus stuck around for it all. And Paul loved him. He calls him “beloved brother, faithful minister,” and says that he’s been sent to encourage. We don’t read of any of Tychicus’ powerful sermons, he never wrote any of his own letters, and we don’t see him performing any miracles. He did something that was just as powerful for Paul; he was a true friend.There was true friendship within the church. This involved an intense engagement with each other. I think many people go to church like I go to the grocery store. I’m not there to engage with anyone, love anyone, or spend any more time than I absolutely need to. I want to get in, get what I need, and get out! But for true friendships to develop within the church, it means that we have to be engaged with each other on a different level. Are you seeking true friendship in the church?

Those are 2 of the 6 things Paul identifies in the church. For the other 4, check our Sunday’s sermon here: Grace and Peace in the Church.