Click here to read the introduction to this post.  Today I will suggest a few things that are essential, if not required, for a group of believers to honor God as a congregation.  These are ruminations from observation and experience as a pastor of over two decades.  These thoughts tend to be pragmatic and are not in order of theological or practical importance.  Clicking on the links in each point will be helpful since they are Scripture references that support each thought.

Note: Below are the things I’ve observed in place at churches that are growing and honoring God.

Dissension, Division, Gossip, Backbiting, and Divisive People Are NOT Tolerated. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, will quench the Spirit and prevent a church from prevailing against the gates of hell than when people undercut, gossip, and slander one another or their leaders!  This is the #1 tool being used by Satan against churches.  Too often people in church talk ABOUT others rather than taking TO them.  The healthiest churches are those that refuse to let people in the fellowship be divisive or cause division… and sometimes that means helping them find another place to worship. Consider the Scripture: Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

Church members trust and follow the Shepherd God sends them. The reason a man goes to serve God as the pastor of a church (Did you catch that?  If not, read it again.)… the reason a man goes to serve GOD as the pastor of a church is to lead them to follow God’s call as a congregation.  Sadly, there is a spirit of distrust toward the pastor and staff in many churches.  People in churches distrust… malign… and oppose the shepherd God calls to lead the fellowship (See point above).  By contrast the churches I’ve observed that are being used mightily for the Kingdom trust their shepherd and follow him as God’s man.    People and congregations that do not follow God’s man are treading in dangerous waters.  Consider the Scripture: Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:17-19 (Note verse 19 closely).

Ministers are faithful in fulfilling God’s call in the local church. One reason some people don’t trust their shepherd is because shepherds have not dealt gently with the sheep… they’ve experienced shepherds who were prideful, arrogant, egotistical, harsh, and/or mean.  People have been burned by the very ones who were called to lead and feed them.  Shepherds that do not serve faithfully are treading in dangerous waters.  However, one shepherd’s failure is not an excuse to oppose and write off every shepherd. Each Shepherd must carry out the call to serve God’s people as found in Scripture.  That means Shepherds…

Will first and foremost of all be faithful to seek God’s direction for the flock through diligently praying, studying God’s Word, preaching, and teaching (Acts 6:2-4; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5).  This is the NUMBER ONE way a shepherd can prove his love for the congregation… to deliver God’s Word to them faithfully.

Serve God’s people with the attitude of humility and love (1 Peter 5:1-5).

Will follow God rather than answering to men… (Galatians 1:10).  Refer to 1 Peter 5:1-5 above for how this is done.

That is enough to think over for today.