Wineskins Archive

February 21, 2017

Touches of What Church Ought to Be (Image Vol 12 No 6 – Nov/Dec 1996)

Filed under: — @ 3:55 pm and

Ron Rose
Fort Worth, Texas

We desperately need to hear more about the good that God is doing in his church and less about our ways of messing it up. We are overexposed to the bad and negative. Truth is, if we would get out of the way, turn loose of the controls, and trust God to be in charge of his church, unbelievable things would happen. As I travel from church to church, I get to see touches of what happens when God is at the controls. I get glimpses of what church ought to be.

Here are just a few of the recent experiences that give me hope. If you know any stories of “good news” in churches, please send me the details. I want to be a proclaimer of “good news” about God and his church. As I see it, he is still about the business of repossessing his church.

Sugar Grove church in Houston (formerly Sharpstown) – The elders prayed for wisdom and direction in making a decision to move from their old location and build new facilities. After their initial survey of available land, it seemed impossible. Either the land they wanted was unavailable, or it was just too expensive. So they took their frustration to a higher power – asking God to provide suitable land at the right price. And God heard their prayer.

Within days, a land owner came to them asking them if he could give them a special price on a portion of land he was selling. He offered what seemed to be a perfect track of land for one million dollars. The elders accepted the offer.

The old Sharpstown church property was put up for sale, pans for the new facilities were developed, and a fundraising campaign was scheduled. The elders and church staff were overwhelmed with the process and stress of it all.

The church property sold for enough money to pay off the land purchase, but the fundraising campaign did not produce the funds necessary to build what was needed without going into debt. All the doors that seemed so open before, now seemed closed and locked The elders, feeling a renewed need for God’s direction, placed the whole dream on the table.

They wished for a sign and prayed for wisdom and eyes to see God’s leading. After an evening of prayer, they decided to place the newly acquired “God-povided land” on the market. Something just wasn’t right. It was time to wait for God to act.

Within weeks they had a contract for $6.5 million on the land that had cost them $1 million and another track of land close to the original track came available for $1 million. God is still in the business of answering prayers. Now, because the leaders were willing to yield to God’s controls and surrender their personal powers, the Sugar Grove church will be able to build new facilities and move in debt free. That’s a touch of what church ought to be.

Southlake church in north, Texas – During the sermon, Toby, the local preacher, stopped a moment and demonstrated how to be a comforting church. He informed the congregation of the presence of a sister who had buried her father a few days ago. Toby asked the elders to get up from their seats and gather together around her. While Toby walked toward her, the elders encircled her and one of them led a special prayer of courage and comfort for her, right there in the middle  of church. Her grief was lifted by the sensitive support of the elders and the timely attention of the preacher. That’s a touch of what church ought to be.

White’s Ferry Road church in West Monroe – During the invitation song a series of unusual things happened. Several people responded that morning. When one would step out and walk down the aisle, two or three others would step out and join him or her. These supportive brothers and sisters were simply there for assurance and encouragement.

By the time the invitation song had ended, there were two dozen or so people crowded around the responders. Some sat on the pews, some on the floor, all of them packed close, as if to protect and affirm the responder.

That morning a couple came asking the elders to pray for God to protext them and guide them on their upcoming trip to Italy. The elders encircled the couple and prayed right then. A repentant brother confessed a recent night of alcohol abuse and unfaithfulness. One of the elders led a sensitive prayer that took this repentant husband, his wife and his family into the throne room of God. Another elder told of the needs of a teenager who came forward and another name was taken before the throne. A young single mother needed help and strength and still another elder prayed for her.

As I watched this healing moment, I felt drawn inside the soul of the congregation. I was privileged to be part of a gentle interweaving of confession, repentance forgiveness, and encouragement. I watched encouragers stand arm-in-arm with “encouragees.” It was another touch of what church ought to be.

Oak Hills church in San Antonio – It was “dream Sunday” – that day each year when this three-service congregation meets together in one assembly for the express purpose of thanking God for the year past and sharing their dreams for the year to come. What a glorious event it was For me, the most uplifting time was the affirmation of new Christians. Max began calling the names of people who had come to a personal faith in Jesus during the year just ended.

As he called the names, the new Christians got up from their seats and walked to the stage. The elders and their wives gathered on the stage and welcomed these brothers and sisters with outstretched arms. As each name was called, friends in the audience cheered or shouted. I was witnessing some thing I had never seen before, and I loved it. Once all the names were called, the elders and their wives symbolically surrounded the group and thanked God for new birth and the gift of Jesus who made these new lives possible.

After the prayer, a spontaneous standing ovation celebrated the moment. What an unforeseen blessing I received that day. Here too, was a touch of what church ought to be.

Duncanville church in the Dallas area – Chris, the local preacher, announced the birth of a new baby in the congregation. The new baby and parents were in the assembly. Chris asked them to bring the baby and come to the platform. When they got close enough, Chris took the baby and held it up in full view of the audience Chris talked for a moment about God’s gift of children,, encouraged the parents to raise this child for the Lord, and prayed for this new life.

What a wonderful moment. Not only was this unforgettable for the young couple, it was a marker event for every child in the audience. It taught the value of parents, church, God and family with greater impact than any lessons or pictures. It was, yet, another touch of what church ought to be.

It’s time for us to release our controls and let God lead us into his expressions of what church ought to be. It’s past time mto focus on finding the good. You can help by looking for the good in churches, beginning with your own.

Send your “good news” church stories to Ron Rose, Box 820971, Fort Worth, Texas, 76182.

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