If you ask people what they see when told to describe a successful church, the answer will usually come back in the following terms: A successful church is a big church, a successful church is an active church. These factors are certainly part of a successful church's character, but if someone asked me to describe my dream congregation, here is what I would say: I want our church to be glorious, not just big or busy.
Church and Glory
We know what the word church means. It comes from a Greek word which means "to be called out". Those who are called out are separated from a group to form a new and special group. It was originally used to describe those who were selected to serve as town leaders. Jesus appropriated this common word and used it to describe His disciples who were called out of the world to form a special group, the saved. From that time forward this special group of called out and saved people have been referred to as the church, more specifically, the church of Christ.
Now, what does the word glorious mean? Glorious come from a root word (glory) which refers to the honor one gets because of one's person or actions. Glory = magnificence. In the Bible it is basically used to describe the level and quality of God's character and His works. For example, they are not merely good or excellent, they are glorious, magnificent, beyond comparison.
And so the Bible speaks of God:
Who is like thee, glorious in holiness?
- Exodus 15:11
Thou art more glorious and excellent
It also speaks of what God has done:
His work is honorable and glorious
The Bible also describes other things as glorious:
- The power of Jesus – Colossians 1:11
- The freedom enjoyed by Christians – Romans 8:21
- The gospel message – II Corinthians 4:4
- The church of Christ – Ephesians 5:27
The church I want, I work to build, and I want to be part of when our Lord comes is this glorious church Paul talks about in Ephesians.
that He [Jesus] might present to Himself the church in all her glory
- Ephesians 5:27
The Glorious Church
Now that we have an idea of what the individual words church and glory mean, what do they represent when they are used together? In other words, what does the glorious church look like? In still other words, how does the "Choctaw Church of Christ" become the "Glorious Choctaw Church of Christ"? The transformation requires a very real and sustained effort in three areas:
We Need to be Glorious in Our Conduct
Our conduct needs to outshine the conduct of the world. Our personal speech and habits have to be clear and pure. Our treatment of others needs to move them to praise God because of it. Our love for one another has to be such that it impresses others who witness it. We have to be better than the Boy Scouts if we are to be glorious. We have to be kinder and more generous that the local charity workers if we are to be glorious.
The world sees our conduct as the witness of our faith and the power of our Lord, if it is not glorious in their eyes, neither is our message nor our Savior.
We Need to be Glorious in Our Worship
The glory of our worship is not based on how loud it is, how well organized or fancy it is, or how many people attend. Our worship is glorious if we are truly offering to God something He is pleased with, something He finds acceptable. And so our worship becomes glorious when it is done according to His will and word, in a heartfelt and sincere manner, and on a consistent basis in our lives.
Glorious worship pleases God and it builds up the church spiritually and emotionally. No matter how young or old, how new or experienced we are Christians, we can offer glorious worship to God if our elders, teachers, song and prayer leaders are leading us in proper Biblical worship, this is their responsibility. It is up to each member to provide the sincere heart and faithful attendance in order to make the offering complete.
Worship is the church's opportunity to glorify God as a community, a body. It is the only time when the entire universal church is fixed on the same glorious objective, to praise and worship God. It is a truly glorious moment because the entire kingdom of God in heaven and on earth are bound together in the same thought and purpose, to worship the Father and the Son in the power and the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is truly glorious because at worship the line between light and dark, spiritual and secular, lost and saved, here and hereafter is drawn clearly for everyone in heaven and on earth to see.
In order to be the glorious church we must be here to participate with an obedient, sincere and faithful heart along with all the saints. Every absence, every distraction, every difference between what you sing and pray and what you actually think and do diminish the glory of our worship by that much.
We Need to be Glorious in Our Acts
Luke's second book is called "The Acts of the Apostles" because in it he recorded the glorious things that they and the church did in spreading the gospel and serving others. We need to serve in such a way that future generations will write a book of "Acts of the Choctaw Church of Christ".
If we preach the word to our community, our state, and the world using the communication tools at our disposal; faithfully teach the children and adults to obey the words of Jesus; work hard to make everyone feel a part of our Christian family; serve those in need in and out of the congregation, then we will become a beacon of pure intense light in a dark and fearful world. Then we will become the city set on a hill, that all will see and be drawn to.
The world is so very tired of phony religion and service with a catch to it. The world is hungry for the glorious church of Christ to show itself and in this part of the country, we are it.
I said at the beginning that some people see a successful church as big and active. This is true in part. What I have tried to explain is that a glorious church usually is blessed with growth and opportunity to serve. In other words, glory comes before size and expanded responsibility.
Now, I have heard some folks say that they are afraid that if we get too big, we will lose our family feeling and loving spirit. I want to tell you that the thing that kills a loving family feeling is sin not size. If we continue to love the brother and sister next to us, size will not change us.
The Lord calls us to be His glorious church, it is our ultimate gaol, our final form.
If you have not lived in this glorious way and would like to begin or start over, let us minister to you in baptism or prayer, whichever you need as we stand and sing our song of invitation.