A friend tells you she’s looking for a good church and might like to visit yours. What would you tell your friend in order to convince her that your church is a “good” church? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Let me take a stab at what some of the top answers might be.
1. Our pastor is a great preacher! He really gets into the Word. You should check him out on iTunes.
2. We’re a Bible-believing church. Our doctrinal statement is posted on our website. You should take a look.
3. We’re really growing! During the fifth service last Sunday they announced we’re launching a satellite location!
4. At our church we don’t just believe the gospel, we live it out. We’re incarnational like Jesus.
5. Our church holds to the __________________ Confession.
6. You can just come as you are at our church! And we’ll get you out of there in time for the game.
7. We’ve got something for the entire family at our church. Our programs meet everything you need.
If we want to convince someone that our church is a good church we might tell them something about the quality of preaching, availability of programs, or something about the church’s beliefs. Some of us might focus on the popularity of the worship leader or pastor. Very few of us, however, would tell our friends about the power of God that is demonstrated in the life of the church.
The theme of “power” struck me while reading the book of First Corinthians. The Apostle Paul is checking up on the church he planted in the city of Corinth. He knows the church has recently been plagued by in-fighting, rivalries, arrogance, and other examples of immorality. Paul writes,
“And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (ESV)
“Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” 1 Corinthians 4:18-20 (ESV)
The New Living Translation paraphrases 4:20 this way: “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. The translators of the NET Bible render it, “For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power.”
The kingdom of God is demonstrated with power, God’s power. The painful problems of disunity, arrogance, bitter rivalries, the selfish abuse of God’s blessings, and taking pride in the prevailing wisdom and idle talk of the day are common to all mankind. These problems, however, are not to be commonplace among the new humanity, the people of God.
It takes the power of God to bring unity out of hostility, to overcome hatred with love, to turn enemies into brothers and sisters, to transform the prideful and selfish into humble servants, and to bring the dead to life. The kingdom of God is demonstrated in this kind of power.
We often allow our churches to get carried away with misplaced priorities and alternative agendas. Paul was not impressed by the lofty rhetoric or the popular preachers of Corinth. In fact, God has made the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters look “foolish”.
If Paul were to visit our churches as he did in Corinth, he would be looking for demonstrations of God’s power. If Paul were to recommend our church to a friend, it would be because we were living by God’s power. From now on when we talk to people about our church, let’s tell them how God’s power is being demonstrated among us.
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