There is a lot of grumbling and complaining today by many in regard to the local church. One listens and they hear many different opinions from folks in regard to what they think would make an ideal local church. However, one thing is often left out of the descriptions people give as to their opinion of what an ideal local church should look like and that is what God has said His church should look like. If we want to get a picture of the IDEAL LOCAL CHURCH, we need to look no further than what the Bible says. Let us examine some things that would make an ideal local church (notice I did not say perfect), but one that fits the pattern of New Testament authority. The first thing we need to establish is the only perfect church is the UNIVERSIAL church. The universal church is all the saved of all time in all places. Only God knows who is in the body. The local church is made up of saints in certain locality. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find a local church that is following the pattern of New Testament authority? Consider some marks of an ideal local church.
(i)The Ideal Local Church is a Loving Church. There are several things the body will love. (1) Love for the Bible the Word of God (Psa.119:107; 2 Tim.4:13). (2) Love for prayer (I Thess.5:17). (3) Love for the brethren (Rev.3:7-9; Acts 2:1; 4:24; 5:12).
(ii)The Ideal Local Church is a Loyal Church. The second thing we can put down is that a local church that fits the bill as being ideal is one that is loyal. (1) Loyal in attendance. We are commanded by the word to assemble (I Cor.4:2; Heb.10:25). We are strengthened by brethren when we come together to worship the Lord (Gal.6:1-2). (2) Loyal in giving. Israel’s cheerful heart to give (Exo.36:5-7). The church at Corinth was instructed to give (I Cor.16:1-2; 2 Cor.9:7). (3) Loyal in attitude. We are loyal to the God we serve and never deny Him. We do not ignore our responsibility to the Lord.
(iii)The Ideal Church is a Laboring Church. The third thing we observe when discussing an ideal local church is that it is one that fits the description of the News Testament is one that works. A body of believers that are laboring to preach the gospel to the lost. This responsibility needs to be done universally (Mk.16:15). There is a great need for the gospel to be proclaimed and when we preach the glorious gospel there should be great joy. We need to stop and consider the blessing and rewards of the gospel being proclaimed in this locality and the support of preachers to go abroad to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph.3:8).
There many other things to describe the ideal local church, but these are sufficient to get us thinking about this local church. What can we do to make it an ideal local church?
There is a tendency to spread out and leave vacant pews in the front of the building. I have come to the conclusion that you will never be motivated to sit towards the front until you convince yourself of the value. Here are some reasons for sitting up front that you might want to consider:
1. BECAUSE IT IS CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS. People who come in late, especially visitors, want to be seated as quickly as possible. If they have to walk to the front of the auditorium to find a seat, it is quite embarrassing.
2. THERE ARE FEWER DISTRACTIONS DURING WORSHIP. By sitting towards the front, I avoid a lot of the distractions that disrupt my concentration during worship. I don’t see the latecomers filling in, nor the darling baby perched on mother’s shoulder. My mind is clear to marvel at the cross of Christ during the Lord’s Supper and to sing with understanding.
3. THE SINGING IS MORE ENJOYABLE. Sitting up front means all of the voices are pointed in your direction. You are surrounded by the sound of harmonious voices singing praises to God. I am stirred to sing more enthusiastically myself.
4. THE PREACHING IS BETTER. I’m serious. You miss a lot in the back of the auditorium. The expression of the face of the speaker (and the song leader) adds depth to the message being communicated. I feel more a part of the message, as if the speaker was talking directly to me.
5. IT MAKES A STATEMENT ABOUT MY INTEREST AND INVOLVEMENT IN WHAT IS HAPPENING. Question: When you buy a ticket to a concert, the theater, or a sporting event, do you ask for the seat farthest away? When visitors see rows of empty pews at the front, what impression does that make on them about our involvement in worship and our excitement about the Lord? Okay, you’re still not convinced right? Hard to break old habits? Then let me challenge you with this one thought. Move to the front just one time and see if you can tell a difference in the meaning of worship. I believe some of you might be surprised at how much more you get out of (and put into) worship. The best seats in the house are at the front. There are still dome good seats available! Will you lead the way?