Building a Church that Displays God’s Glory
In the pursuit of building thriving and impactful churches, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends, technologies, and strategies. We often find ourselves asking, “What makes a church appealing to outsiders?” Is it the music, the lighting, the programs, or the comfort it offers? While these aspects can be important, they are not the core of what makes a church attractive to outsiders. A church’s primary calling is to worship God by displaying His image. We’ll draw practical lessons from Scripture to understand how this foundational principle can guide our efforts in building healthy and God-glorifying churches.
The Church’s Purpose – To Display God’s Image
The fundamental purpose of the church is to display God’s image in a fallen world. Imagine a diverse group of individuals, redeemed by God’s grace, from various ethnicities and social classes, coming together to be remolded in the image of God’s Son. This transformation is a powerful display of God’s love, unity, and the work of His Spirit before a watching world.
In the corporate life of the church, we have the opportunity to demonstrate love, peace, patience, joy, gentleness, and self-control—the fruits of the Spirit—amidst the challenges of community living. This display of God’s character is a testimony to the transformative power of the gospel. When the world witnesses believers living out these qualities despite their imperfections, it encounters something supernatural and compelling.
The Church’s Distinctiveness
The church must stand apart from the world. While understanding the culture and context is important, the church’s primary challenge has always been to remain distinct, holy, and loving in the world. This doesn’t mean imitating the world to gain relevance. Instead, it means being a light in the darkness, a city on a hill, and a witness to the truth.
Throughout history, God’s people have often faced the temptation to conform to worldly standards. However, our calling is not to blend in but to shine brightly with the light of Christ. Just as Israel was called to be distinct from the nations, the church must embrace its unique identity as the redeemed people of God.
Evangelism and Outreach through Distinctness
The evangelistic and outreach mission of the church is closely tied to its distinctness. By living in a way that reflects God’s character and values, the church becomes a beacon of hope and an attraction to those who are seeking truth and meaning in their lives. People are drawn to the church not when it looks like the world but when it displays something profoundly different.
When we prioritise being distinct, our evangelism efforts become more effective. People are not merely attracted to our programs or events; they are drawn to the transformative power of the gospel and the authenticity of our faith.
The Life of the Church in God’s Word
The life of the local church finds its vitality in the proclamation and continuous rehearsal of the gospel. The church is, at its core, the people of the gospel. The gospel addresses both our guilt and our corruption, offering the message of forgiveness and transformation through faith in Christ.
As church leaders and members, we should never take the understanding of the gospel for granted. Every week, we should be rehearsing the gospel to ourselves and our congregation. It’s through the faithful preaching and teaching of the gospel that lives are transformed, and the church fulfils its mission of displaying God’s glory.