The Perfect Church

Bible Book: Matthew  18 : 15-20
Subject: Church, Evangelism


Listen to this article:

:The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He works from 8:00 a.m. until midnight and is also the church janitor.

The Perfect Pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books and donates $30 a week to the church. He is 29 years old and has 40 years experience. Above all, he is handsome.

The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers and he spends most of his time with senior citizens. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church. He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.

The Perfect Pastor always has time for Church Council and all of its committees. He never misses the meeting of any church organization and is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.

The Perfect Pastor is always in the next church over!

If your pastor doesn’t measure up, simply send this notice to six other churches that are tired of their pastor too. Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of your list. If everyone cooperates, in one week you receive 1,643 pastors. One of them should be The Perfect Pastor.

Have faith in this letter. One church broke the chain and got its old pastor back in less than 3 months."

Obviously, this parody speaks to the reality that there is no perfect pastor. One must follow that statement up with the connected reality that there is also no perfect church. I know of many young pastors who earnestly seek for that particular animal and are frustrated because they could never find it.

The message I share with you today is one of supreme importance. In fact, I believe that it is a word that needs to be heard not only by our church but every church. It revolves around a promise that the Lord has made to us as a church, that is as a body of believers in a corporate setting. His promise is very special. In fact it is stated in two particular ways that I would like for us to focus upon this day.

I. The promise is the presence of the Lord.

It is interesting to me that when many people talk about the spiritual vitality of this church or any other church that they state it in a rather interesting way. I have heard people say that when they walk in the doors of this church, they sense the presence of the Lord. I have heard others say that when they visit particular churches, they sense the obvious lack of the presence and/or power of the Lord in those places. Have you ever experienced that kind of realization? Whether you have or you haven’t, I think   all of us would agree that every church desperately needs the presence of the Lord. Without it personally, you would be lost and doomed to hell. Without it as a corporate body, where would we be? What would happen to our church?

Think with me just a moment about what is happening in churches across our land. In every country on every continent, churches by the thousands are struggling for their very identity. Many, if not most are declining. Our modern day world has deemed the church as irrelevant and unnecessary.

Christians have fought among themselves so long that they have left a bitter taste. Therefore, I think you can agree with me that we desperately need God’s presence to be experienced powerfully among the churches and in our church. How can this happen? How can God’s presence be mightily experienced?

II. His Presence is Guaranteed in Appropriate Conflict Management

Our Lord Jesus anticipated that the church would be made up of human beings and therefore would be a flawed organization from the very beginning. However, He chose to give guidelines on how human beings can relate so that His church could be an awesome, powerful, agent of the Lord in spite of ourselves. The sad reality is that we have ignored His guidelines and thus have ceased to become the awesome, powerful agent of the Lord. Listen to me. I am convinced that in the vast majority of cases of churches that are struggling, dying, and divided it is because they have rejected God’s outline for handling the differences that inevitably come about because of our humanity within the churches.

Turn with me to Matthew 18:15-20. We have studied this passage together before (almost two years ago). While we will not do an in-depth study of it again at this point, I want to focus on God’s promise in verse 20. This is a verse that is used, for the most part, taken totally out of context. While it is generally true that God is with us when we are gathered together in prayer, witness, or ministry, this verse is specifically related to a church resolving conflict according to the principles of God. As we look at this passage, many of you are going to begin to wonder or ask yourselves is the Pastor trying to head off some difficulty within our church. I assure you that I am not speaking about any particular situation at all. For that, I am very grateful. However, we must not back away from a constant vigilance as to what can happen in any church and how we need to handle any situation that ever comes up. As I said, churches have been destroyed all around us because of a neglect of these principles.

There are many within these churches that are unaware of how to handle problems personally, in family matters, as well as in church issues. These principles work in the business world, the family world, as well as in the church world.

First, we need to keep the matter private (v.15). If someone has offended you, you need to approach that person and speak with him or her alone. It is possible that he does not even realize what he or she has done. Or even if he did it deliberately, your own attitude of submission and love will help him to repent and apologize. Above all else, go to him with the idea of winning your brother, not winning an argument. It is possible to win the argument and lose your fellowship.

We must have a spirit of meekness and gentleness when we seek to restore a brother or sister (Galatians 6:1). We must not go about condemning the offender or spreading gossip. We must lovingly seek to help him in the same way we would want him to help us if the situation were reversed.

This first step is vitally important. Many of us have ignored this first step. When we are offended, we immediately go to our circle of friends or acquaintances or someone else in the church to tell how we have been offended by a certain party. Instead of doing what God says, we take the matter into our own hands. It is impossible to estimate the amount of godly energy that has been wasted because of our thwarting God’s plan. Instead of listening to God’s Word, we use the free speech principle in our reporting of other’s wrongs. The Scripture is plain. When there is a problem, then you go to that person first and privately. Ignore God’s Word and you will destroy the fellowship.

Second, ask for help from others (v. 16). If the offender refuses to make things right, then we may feel free to share the burden with one or two dependable believers. We should share the facts as we see them and ask the brethren for their prayerful counsel. After all, it may be that we are the ones who are wrong. If the brethren feels the cause is right, then together we can go to the offender and try once again to win him or her. Not only can these persons assist in prayer and persuasion, but they can be witnesses to the church of the truth of the conversation.

When sin is not dealt with honestly, it always spreads. What was once a matter between two people has now grown to involve others. No wonder Jesus and Paul both compared sin to yeast because leaven spreads.

Third, ask the church for help (v.17). What started as a private problem between two people is now out in the open for the whole assembly. Church discipline is a neglected ministry these days, yet it is taught here as well as in the Pauline Epistles. Just as children in a home sometimes need discipline so God’s children in the church sometimes need discipline. Fortunately, situations such as this rarely reach this stage. However, if by the time the matter comes to the whole church and the offender has not yet repented, then there must be discipline.

Satan knows how to use relationships to destroy vision, enthusiasm, unity and peace. He knows exactly where that can be done most effectively, and that is within the church. If you have ever wondered why church relationships can seem the most hurtful, then think for a moment about where would Satan most wish his damage to be done? Doesn’t it make sense that he would work hardest to destroy church relationships? The answer is yes. God promises in His Word that He will be right in the midst of us when we deal with relationships according to His principles.

III. God’s Presence Is Guaranteed as a Partnership in Evangelism.

Turn quickly with me to Matthew 28:19-20. In this very familiar passage of Scripture, we see God’s command to go into all the world making disciples of all nations. We have studied this passage on many occasions. However, we must not forget God’s promise at the end of that passage where He promises that He will be with us always, until the very end of the age. How we depend upon that partnership!

As we share the Gospel and teach God’s people, we are assured of God’s very real and powerful presence. In other words, the church that is performing God’s purposes can be assured of His presence in a profound way. If any church ever stops doing what God has called it to do in evangelism, discipleship and missions, then they will sense God’s fellowship ebbing away. That is why the Bible says that a church can reach the point where God writes Ichabod across that church’s name. The word Ichabod means “the glory has departed” (1 Samuel 4:21).

I know that you join with me today in saying we want God to be very real in this body of believers and in our individual lives. I pray that you would recommit today to following God’s principles and God’s plan in such a way that we do church right and we do God’s work faithfully. Remember His presence is promised when we follow His principles in relationships and we fulfill The Great Commission.