What’s Behind A Church’s ♥able Reputation?

Last week I said if people are going to say “I ♥ That Church!” it has to be a ♥able church. A ♥able church has a ♥able reputation that compromises what Luke captured about the very first Church—internal unity, sincere piety, supernatural results, and practical help.

Once a church has this kind of reputation, how is it sustained? 

First, let me tell you how it’s NOT sustained: A church’s ♥able reputation isn’t sustained by that church focusing on it’s ♥able reputation. 

A ♥able reputation must flow from the constant development of godly character. Otherwise, we substitute what sounds good with what is actually sound, and we substitute what looks good with what is actually good. 

That’s what the Pharisees did—they were more concerned about how their religion looked to others, and not how it aligned with God’s heart. In fact, Jesus told two stories about people that thought they were “in” with God because of their reputation, but God actually says to them, “I don’t know who you are” (see Matthew 7:21-23; 25:1-12). 

Matthew Henry reminded us, “Men may go to hell with a good reputation!” 

But D.L. Moody got the order right when he said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”

I believe the first Church shows us three components of a maturing godly character. 

  1. Our source must be pure. The Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In other words, they grew with sound doctrine, not with things that sounded like doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3; Acts 17:11). 
  1. Our daily disciplines must be productive. The Christians saw “church” as an every day thing. They didn’t view studying the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship, and other maturing activities a merely something to be checked off their To Do list. 
  1. Our accountability must be in our fellowship. The Greek word for fellowship (koinonia) means an active involvement with the “one anothers” in the Church. What’s especially important is maintaining the highest levels of accountability with each other so that the growth of godly character can continue (see especially Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16). 

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, everything is lost.” —Billy Graham 

My church’s ♥able reputation will be sustained as I am committed to growing in godly character. 

So… are you committed to that continual growth? 

A Church With A ♥able Reputation

Demographers report that there are upwards of 70 million people in America that are unchurched. In my own experience, I have found that the unchurched people I have met are really dechurched people. At one time they were a part of a church community, but finding nothing of value there, they left. 

The way the first-century community responded to the Church—the historian Luke says “everyone was filled with awe and enjoying the favor of all the people”—is how people will still respond today to the extent that we resemble that first Church. 

If people are going to say “I That Church!” we have to be a able church!

Here are four qualities that I see in the first Church that gave it such a able reputation— 

  1. Internal unity

Luke uses the word fellowship (Greek: koinonia) which means an intimate, personal involvement in each other’s lives. The historical account lists phrases like devoted, breaking of bread and prayer, together, together with glad and sincere hearts, and one in heart and mind. 

  1. Sincere piety

Church for these first Christians wasn’t a place they went to on a certain day of the week; it wasn’t a set of religious rules they rigorously followed. They didn’t do church because they had to, but because they loved to! Luke says all the believers were together, and every day they continued to meet…with glad and sincere hearts.

  1. Supernatural results

Luke says wonders and miracles, signs, and great power accompanied the Church’s activity. Interestingly, the order is fellowship → awe → miracles, NOT what I would have expected, which is fellowship → miracles → awe. The awe came from the Church’s unified, sincere fellowship, and then the miracles simply confirmed God was there (cf. Mark 16:20). 

  1. Practical helps

Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” The first Christians saw people in need and they helped: they gave to anyone as he had need and they shared everything they had so that there were no needy persons among them. This is exactly what Jesus told us to do (see Matthew 25:34-40). 

People will the Church when they see real among church people! 

If we want to see dechurched people become rechurched people, we need to return to our Christian roots—we need to make sure we are lovingly unified in heart and mind, allowing God to perform the miraculous among us, and then practically meeting the needs of everyone around us. 

Join me this Sunday as we learn more lessons from this first-century Church. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live.

Links & Quotes

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No matter how loving Christians are, and no matter how carefully we present our beliefs, people will still be offended. Check out this short video from Alan Shlemon at Stand To Reason.

“I am considering not how, but why, [God] makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you—you, the individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith. Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction.” —C.S. Lewis in The Problem Of Pain

“One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy one must be tied.” —C.S. Lewis

Eric Metaxas asks, “What’s the difference between evolutionary theory and an octopus?” You will love his answer!

“We make a mistake as Christians if we hold the view that all non-Christian culture is worthless and should be avoided. This is simply not the case. God has given gifts for making culture to every human being, and very often those who do not know Him are capable of making artifacts, establishing institutions, or promoting conventions that actually are very useful for human flourishing. This is a measure of God’s common grace to all people. Believers must not despise such gifts, and we must not ignore or avoid them. … We do not repudiate those unbelieving aspects of culture which are good and useful. Rather, we appropriate all such forms, learning as much as we can about them and considering ways they might be put to use for the glory of God.” —T.M. Moore

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood wanted to rid society of “human weeds,” and in 1925 she wrote, “We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden.” Read more here.

“There is no rule binding with iron force upon you, for we are not under law in Christ’s church, but under grace, and grace will prompt you to do more than law might suggest….” —Charles Spurgeon

“We wouldn’t dare rob somebody of his gold watch or bank account. Yet God states clearly that slandering someone’s name is robbery of the worst kind. And we can do it in the subtlest of ways: by pointing an accusing finger, questioning one’s character, passing on tidbits of gossip. Indeed, three of the most damning words we can speak are, ‘Have you heard?’ The mere suggestion of the question robs a person of something valuable. And it defiles our own mouth.” —David Wilkerson

Frank Turek has an interesting look at the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky.

Links & Quotes

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“The thing required is not to add to the good actions we have already done, but only to do that out of love to God which men of reputation and virtuous lives due from a principle of honor and regard of themselves. …  Let us do all the same honest and virtuous actions, but let us do them for the sake of Him Who made us and to Whom we owe our all.” —Françoise Fenelon

“If, when no one is watching us, we are building ourselves up in the Word of God, then, when a crisis comes, we shall stand; but if we are not building on the Word of God, when a crisis comes we shall go down, no matter what our wills are like.” —Oswald Chambers

“So the issue for us is: Do we eagerly long for the coming of Christ? Or do we want Him to wait while our love affair with the world runs its course?” —John Piper

For all of my pastor friends who have kids, this post from Pastor Dave Barringer is an important read.

Dr. Tim Elmore uses John Wooden as a great example to ask the question: Are You A Coach Or A Teacher?

Have you heard that there are fewer Christians in America? Check out John Stonestreet’s analysis of the latest reports.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell talks about the consistency and perseverance of the professional—

21 Benefits From Doing Things God’s Way

got wisdom?I was reading Proverbs 3 this morning, and the opening words are, “My son, do not forget my teaching….” As if to emphasize why we shouldn’t forget how God tells us to live, Solomon lists at least 21 benefits that come from doing things God’s way―

  • A life worth living
  • Tranquility
  • Favor
  • Good reputation with God and people
  • God will keep you on track
  • Health and strength
  • Overflowing success
  • God’s discipline
  • Wisdom and understanding
  • Better return on investments
  • Riches and honor
  • Peace
  • Blessing
  • Safety
  • Sweet sleep
  • Fearlessness
  • Confidence
  • God’s friendship
  • A blessed home life
  • Grace
  • Honor

Now that’s a list worth having! And it’s all there for the one who will heed God’s Word and obediently live out what He says.

Charles Spurgeon On Humility

C.H. Spurgeon“How careful should we be when we do anything for God, and God is pleased to accept of our doings, that we never congratulate ourselves. The minister of Christ should unrobe himself of every rag of praise. ‘You preached well,’ said a friend to John Bunyan one morning. ‘You are too late,’ said honest John, ‘the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.’ The devil often tells God’s servants a great many things which they should be sorry to hear. Why, you can hardly be useful in a Sunday School but he will say to you ‘How well you have done it!’ You can scarcely resist a temptation, or set a good example, but he will be whispering to you ‘What an excellent person you must be!’ It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence—‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.’ Now God is so jealous on this point that, while He will forgive His own servants a thousand things, this is an offense for which He is sure to chasten us. Let a believer once say, ‘I am,’ and God will soon make him say ‘I am not.’ Let a Christian begin to boast, ‘I can do all things,’ without adding ‘through Christ which strengtheneth me,’ and before long he will have to groan, ‘I can do nothing,’ and bemoan himself. Many sins of true Christians, I do not doubt, have been the result of their glorifying themselves. Many a man has been permitted by God to stain a noble character and to ruin an admirable reputation, because the character and the reputation had come to be the man’s own, instead of being laid, as all our crowns must be laid, at the feet of Christ.” —Charles Spurgeon

Keeping The Ninth Commandment

4 ways to give true testimonySome folks asked that I post a couple of things I shared in my message this morning about the ninth commandment: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Here are 4 ways to observe the positive side of this 9th commandment:

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed. —Iago, in William Shakespeare’s Othello

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