Church Culture (part 6)

     As congregations mature certain characteristics become mainstays in their service to God. In past years we have experienced attitudes and actions that weren’t always what the Lord would prefer. How many of us have experienced the disappointment of being part of a spriritual family hindered by different groups each having their own agenda? How difficult it is to contantly hear murmuring. We hear fellow preachers condemn one another in the name of truth. Monthly papers have been produced condemning everybody and everything that doesn’t agree with the opinions of the writer. Instead of a family pulling together we become a family divided, brethren constantly condemning and bickering with each other. An atmosphere of legalism and self-reliance brings about results that never allow necessary positive characteristics to develop. For more than 100 years we have wallowed in an atmosphere that has hindered the preaching of Jesus. It doesn’t matter how noble our intentions the results have been tragic. This atmosphere has been diametrically opposed to all that is produced by the preaching of Jesus. Far to often in our arrogance we have allowed this atmosphere to not only remain but be the defining force in our brotherhood. In many instances we have failed to grow as Christians and as churches. We have attempted growth in a culture that stands opposed to the freedom brought to us by Christ.
     A culture of preaching Jesus produces maturity in both individual Christians and the churches to which they belong. Mature churches develop positive personality traits. Proper spiritual concepts will only develop consistently in a culture that stresses the preaching of Jesus. It is important that we nurture proper traits in our church family. Let us look at the characteristics that develop when a church centers its preaching in Christ.
     If preaching Jesus is our mantra we will produce a trait of transparency within the church. Transparency and honesty are absolutely necessary in order for a church to maintain its strength in the community. Everything must be above board and without question. We cannot afford to develop hidden agendas. This eliminates the popular question, “What can the church do for me?” Proper culture and atmosphere encourage our imitating Christ. When meeting our personal wants stops being the driving force we no longer have need for personal agendas. Preaching Christ is the agenda. We can be totally honest in dealing with each other because we have taken peronal pride out of the way. I no longer feel the need to win. My pride and success is now placed in preaching Jesus.
     Christ driven churches nourish an attitude that builds on small victories. They celebrate the  successes. These gifts are treasured because they allow opportunities of encouragement. It becomes the rule rather than the exception to find a way to appreciate the things we do for one another. In Hebrews 10 we are commanded to provoke one another to love and good works. The successes in our spiritual families afford brethren an opportunity to fulfill this command. We now find opportunities to build each other up in Christ Jesus. A deep and abiding love among brethren is the natural result of preaching Jesus.
     Proper atmosphere in our congregations will bring us together. One of Jesus last request to the Father was unity. When we stress absolute agreement rather than Christ we will never see unity. The choice could never be clearer. We either stress the direction of the past or we stress Jesus. The personal traits of our congregations rest on the choices we make.

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