What Expectations of Church Should We Have

How do we find balance in our expectations of Church? There are so many different denominations, styles, sizes, and many different other variables. How do we know what to look for when we’re searching for a church to join? What about when we’re searching for a ministry?

What should we expect from church? | Ministry | Finding Balance | Christian Lifestyle | Biblical Womanhood

 

Finding Balance in Our Expectations of Church

Read It

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

Matthew 16:18 (HCSB)

If you’ve never read this passage, then what you need to know is that Jesus is speaking to the Apostle Peter.

1 In those days, as the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. 2 Then the Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, “It would not be right for us to give up preaching about God to handle financial matters. 3 Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry.”

Acts 6:1-4 (HCSB)

In the early days of the church, there was a massive explosion of growth. Not only did Peter preach two different sermons that added to the group, but many of the first Christians were active in prayer, miracles, and sharing the Gospel with others. A divide happened between those Jews who were born into the Hebrew culture and those who kept the Jewish faith but adopted to Greek culture.

To fix the dispute between the two groups of Jewish believers, the Twelve (Jesus’s original disciples plus Matthias) wanted to create a new group of leaders to oversee the ministry to the widows.

23 Therefore, if the whole church assembles together and all are speaking in other languages and people who are uninformed or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all are prophesying and some unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convicted by all and is judged by all. 25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.”

26 What then is the conclusion, brothers? Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation. All things must be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:23-26 (HCSB)

This is not to start a debate about speaking in tongues versus not speaking in tongues. This is simply the end of the passage that discusses the rules on speaking in tongues (hence the reference to interpretations in verse 26). In this passage, Paul gives his reasoning for the rules that he lays out for speaking in tongues by explaining what a nonbeliever would think if they stepped into the service.

Learn It

The Assembly

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

Matthew 16:18 (HCSB)

Since I happened to be prepping this post while visiting with my brother (who has actually studied Greek before), I asked him what “church” originally meant in Greek. The answer? “Assembly or gathering of people.”

Turns out there’s actually some complaints about how Church is an incorrect translation from the Greek language. Of course, the main post that I read on this viewpoint also tried to say that the early apostles were going around encouraging anarchy against Caesar. It’s fascinating to read if you’re interested, but take your sources with a grain of salt.

Let’s go back to the conversation with my brother.

My first thought was this passage. It was a little disappointing to realize that Jesus used a regular word for His time in this passage. After all, the introduction of the word “church” in the Bible is a drastic change from “temple” or “synagogue.” It marks the start of something new.

“On this rock I will build My assembly.”

It sounds anticlimactic when you think about it this way. But then again, the ordinary everyday translation puts a lot of emphasis on the word “My.”

This passage is still definitely the start of something new: a group of believers who follow Christ’s instructions and example.

Of course, following Christ’s example leads us right to the next point.

Ministries Present in the Church

3 Therefore, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry.”

Acts 6:3-4

While I don’t remember anybody directly explaining what ministry meant to me, I came under the impression that the act of ministering to others is also the act of meeting needs. When we think about ministries today, we probably think about children’s ministry, women’s ministry, the single’s ministry, etc.

You’re not going to find those kind of groups segmented out in the Bible. However, in this passage we can see three different ministries:

  • Taking care of the widows – physical needs
  • Prayer – support for all other ministries
  • Preaching – spiritual needs

It’s very important to remember that preaching in the days of the early church is a little bit different than what we might think of today. While people did preach within the church ministry, we also know that there were many sermons out in public.

There’s also no line drawn between what is internal, for the church, and what is external, for nonbelievers, in this passage. Should we go to church expecting all of our needs met? Is it an assembly for worship? Or is it a gathering place to send Christians out into the world so that the needs of others could be met? Fortunately, we have the next passage that adds some clear-lines.

All Things Done for Edification

25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.”

26 What then is the conclusion, brothers? Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation. All things must be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:25-26 (HCSB)

Edification = building up. Sound familiar? Jesus also said He would build the church through Peter in Matthew 16:8.

So how do we build up the church? Through ministry.

Now the question becomes, whose needs should we expect to be met? I think, if we have a Spiritual need, we should expect it to be met. However, we need to be careful that it’s a genuine need (like to be surrounded by fellow Christians for worship) and not a desire that we’ve elevated to the level of a need.

You see, I think we’re all guilty of having relationship deal-breakers when we’re looking for a church to attend. If we’re not careful, that turns into searching for a church that caters to our own edification rather than Christ’s assembly?

So how do we know if we’re edifying Christ’s assembly? Look at verse 25. Can you imagine a non-believer walking into church just to fall flat on his face to worship alongside you?

It’s a radical image, right?

Would it ever happen to that extreme? I like to think that it would.

Apply It

Yay for breaking the traditional Apply It section!

Bringing it All Together

So what do all these different sections have to do with balancing our expectations of church? Here’s what we should expect when we attend church:

  • A place that follows the instructions of Jesus
  • A place the meets physical and spiritual needs through ministry
  • A gathering of people who further build up the church

Next Steps

  • Ask: “Am I attending church for my own edification, or to edify the church instead?”
  • Do: “Look for a way to use your unique skills to build up the church.”
  • Pray: “Dear God, please balance my expectations of church. Remind me that it’s not about me; it is about You. Amen.”

Please share with your friends!

More about Lauren C. Moye

Lauren has had a lifelong passion for both writing and for helping people. Once upon a time, she would have laughed if somebody suggested she write nonfiction to achieve those goals. A couple of years ago, she would have scoffed if somebody suggested she write for her peer groups. Today she's writing to "HELP BUSY CHRISTIAN MOMS MANAGE LIFE."

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