The Bible gives an example of a church that has a name that is alive, but really is dead (Revelation 3:1). The verse that follow (verses 2-4) give keys to know what an alive church looks like.
- Be watchful
- Strengthen what remains
- Remember what was received and heard
- Stay undefiled
- Walk worthy
Let’s look at the Bible to dig a little deeper as to what this means.
Being watchful is mainly given in the context of an active prayer life (1 Peter 4:7, Ephesians 6:18). Jesus tells His disciples to “watch and pray” (Luke 21:36, Matthew 26:41). Thus, the alive church will be a praying church and it’s members will be encouraged to devote time to prayer.
Strengthen What Remains
Strengthening what remains is having a living connection with God. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). This connection is an internal one that is brought about by Christ and His Spirit living in our hearts. “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16). Within church leadership, the alive church’s pastors and leaders will be concerned with process of conversion in its members, not just with baptisms.
To remember what was heard is referring to a studying of the word of God and putting it into practice. “ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). God’s people will not merely hear the word, but remember it while fulfilling the tasks in their daily lives. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:21-22).
The alive church will remain undefiled. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27). The alive church will stay unspotted from the world, not bringing in worldly means of attraction or entertainment that please self, but pure and holy things that please God. (Romans 8:8). They will do these things that “he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesian 5:27).
Last, to walk worthy is the active living out of the Christian life. “ that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:10). The apostle Paul said he died daily and that this practice of sanctification was the work of a lifetime (1 Corinthians 15:31; Philippians 3:12). The active church will not be satisfied with merely a form of godliness; it wants to see the power of God at work in the hearts of people, giving them victory over sin, the fruit of the Spirit and sustaining spiritual growth in all members and, especially, those new in the faith.
By their Fruit
When God’s word is heeded, it will produce fruit naturally that will tell of whether this church is alive or not. These fruits will be seen in actively revealing the character of God and in laboring for the growth of His kingdom. Evangelism, in other words, will be its focus. The alive church will have that as a ultimate goal and will work to achieve that mission. For this end, the alive church would organize its members in active outreach programs and will make disciples of all members, in accordance with the great commission given by Christ in Matthew 28:18–20. The church will be willing to sacrifice of its means and time to save people.
This church will also utilize the member’s talents for ministry. Obviously, not everyone can preach, but everyone in the church can do something as his talents may allow. Therefore, the church should provide training and equip the lay members for service in the church. Examples of this may be Bible study groups to teach the scriptures and learn how to share it with others, teams for visiting the sick, taking care of the needy, and feeding the poor. Other groups may be trained in literature evangelism or music activities. All the members will work in unison as a body to be a blessing the communities around them (Ephesians 4:11-13).
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In His service,