Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:16
(This article was also published on ChurchLeaders.com)
Recent statistics show that every year in the US, 4000 churches close their doors while only 1000 new churches are planted. Among existing churches, half did not add any new members to their ranks in the last two years. From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations dropped by almost 5 million members, while the US population rose by 24 million.1
These are alarming statistics!
Each church that shuts down represents real people who have lost their church family. So if you are someone looking for a new church, someone wondering if their church is built to last, or someone who would love to help their church improve, here are 24 signs of a super healthy church.
Genesis 1:27, Isaiah 48:11
In the six days of creation, there is clearly a progression of intricacy happening. God starts general, making light, and then gets more detailed, finally making man.
It was a progression in revealing his own glory, for the glory of God is the visible manifestation of God’s beauty and character. When you see some intangible quality of God in a tangible way, it’s called “the glory of God.” That’s why, for example, when God would reveal himself in the Old Testament to the Israelites in a cloud or in fire it says the “glory of God” would appear (Exodus 24:15-18).
Psalm 25:11, 1 Corinthians 1:28-31
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award in all the US Armed Forces. It is only given to those soldiers who have displayed the utmost gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty.
One such recipient was Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez for his heroics in the Vietnam War. On the morning of May 2, 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters into a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam. Their mission was to gather intelligence information in an area heavily patrolled by the North Vietnam Army (NVA). The highly trained team began taking heavy fire, became pinned down, and called for an extraction. The only way out was by helicopter, and after three attempts by pilots, the plight of these 12 men seemed more hopeless by the minute.
It’s troubling when we learn that Moses was not allowed to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
Moses spoke with God face to face. He was God’s chosen instrument to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God used Moses to give us the Pentateuch, the first five foundational books of the Bible. Moses was the humblest man on the face of the earth during his lifetime (Numbers 12:3). All in all, it’s hard to find a man more devoted to God in all of the Old Testament.
So why was Moses kept from entering the Promised Land?
Isaiah 55:9, Ephesians 3:16-21
He doesn’t live up to our expectations. God doesn’t act the way we think he should. He doesn’t love like we imagine. He doesn’t redeem, forgive, or set free like we had hoped. And this is a good thing. So what does the Bible say about expectations of God?
God Exceeds Our Expectations Because We Often Humanize Him
So many times we try to lock ourselves into a humanized version of God, but God, out of his love for us, seeks to always crush these little thoughts of ours. He doesn’t act the way we think he should because he is far greater than our minds could ever understand.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. . . . – Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. – Matthew 27:11-14
Silence can say a lot. Sometimes words are not enough for the most important of messages. Sometimes the most effective answer is to say nothing.
(Note: This is a condensed version of the article “What Is the Glory of God?” found on our Resource page.)
“What is the glory of God?” is certainly one of the most foundational questions to answer in all of Christianity because the glory of God is so central to the gospel, the Bible, and everything God does.
Humbly, however, we must first accept our answers will always be incomplete as our Infinite God can never fully be described by his finite creatures. With that said, the Bible uses the phrase “glory of God” in many different ways, which means we can create many different definitions in general. However, the Bible primarily uses the phrase “the glory of God” in a specific way, and therefore what follows is a specific definition.
Definition: The glory of God is the invisible qualities, character, or attributes of God displayed in a visible (or knowable) way.
If you were to get down to the nitty-gritty motivations behind all that God does, I believe you would discover God does everything ultimately for himself, for his glory. I know it seems counterintuitive when talking about a loving God who died in the place of all sinners, but the Bible makes it very clear that all God does he ultimately does for his own glory.
According the Bible, God Does Everything for His Own Glory
God created everything through himself and for himself (Colossians 1:16). He created the world to declare his glory (Psalm 19:1-4). He formed and made man with the same intent (Isaiah 43:7). He condemns all who dishonor his name (Exodus 20:7), but he also rescues man to bring honor to his name (Jeremiah 14:7, Psalm 25:11). He rescued the Israelites for the sake of his name so he would not be profaned among the nations (Ezekiel 20:9). He parted the waters for them to gain for himself everlasting renown (Isaiah 63:12-14, Psalm 106:8). He placed Pharaoh in leadership to create for himself the opportunity to display his power and so his name would be proclaimed in all the earth (Exodus 9:16).
I remember when a close friend of mine was going through a season of turmoil and pain. His brother had just died from cancer at a young age. Other relational challenges were happening as well that were causing him to feel extremely isolated and depressed. And to top it all off he was under immense spiritual warfare through this extremely difficult time in his life.
What could I say?
Bible Verses: James 4:4-10
With just a quick read of Scripture, there’s no doubt that God not only allows Satan to live, but God allows Satan to tempt us. But why does God allow Satan to tempt us? Or maybe an even better question is why did God allow Satan to tempt Jesus?
Why Does God Allow Satan to Tempt Us? For God’s Glory
It’s a good place to start by noting that any question that starts with “Why does God . . . ?” can always be answered “For his own glory and our good.” Everything God does ultimately is rooted in his sovereign plan of glorifying himself and loving people.