God expands His kingdom through His church. Though we are imperfect and fall short, God still chooses to work through His people and the community of believers as His vessels. Therefore, it is our calling to build a healthy church in order to carry out God’s purpose. Then how do we define a healthy church? We can take a look at the church of Antioch in the book of Acts 11 as one of our biblical models.
FIRSTLY, A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A GOSPEL-CENTERED CHURCH.
Antioch church gathered because of the gospel and for the gospel. They had to overcome many barriers between Hebraic Jews and Hellenistic Jews, as well as between the Jews and the Gentiles in order to become one. When we look at the Antioch church, the members were able to overcome the cultural, political and ethnic barriers to build a church community only through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see evidence of this diversity in unity even within the leadership, “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” (Acts 13:1). Light Presbyterian Church began as a Korean immigrant church 34 years ago. It was through the sacrifice and commitment of the first generation that the second and the third generations were raised. However, God wants to expand His church to bring not only Korean Canadians but all of His people to Himself. Therefore, we as New Hope Fellowship (the English congregation of LPC) are called to build multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-campus ministries. However, what unites our community together is not the charisma of a certain leader or the plethora of programs offered, but the unchanging truth and power of the gospel.
SECONDLY, A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A MISSIONAL CHURCH.
Those who truly understand the power of the gospel and are transformed by it, cannot help but be moved outward by its conviction. The power of the Holy Spirit creates the missional momentum. It gravitates towards people who do not know Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour. There is a huge difference between a church that does missions and a missional church. Antioch church did not approach missions work as a project or program. Rather, it was their lifestyle and flowed naturally into their realities, resulting in a congruity in how they lived both on the mission field and in their everyday lives. A gospel-centered church is a missional church that naturally stirs people to move outward. When we fail to move outward and keep the power of the gospel within our own selves, we end up imploding internally. There are many families, church communities, and organizations imploding internally because their focus is primarily on the internal matters of today. However, when we are able to shift our focus onto what God is doing beyond the walls of our family and church, we begin to experience the bigger purpose and power of God’s call in our lives and in our relationships. We as the church are called to live beyond ourselves for this reason. Students are called to study for a purpose beyond themselves. Professionals ought to pursue excellence beyond their own career goals. God has blessed NHF as we continually move outwards by planting various campuses, partnering with other community churches and missions organizations, and mobilizing people who desire to live a missional life for God.
THIRDLY, A HEALTHY CHURCH CULTIVATES DEEP SPIRITUALITY.
The power of the gospel brings transformation from the inside out. There is no dichotomy between Sunday and everyday life, church and workplace. Antioch church was a model church to non-believers in such powerful ways that the disciples were given for the first time, the nickname “Christians.” “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26). “Christian” meant ‘follower of Christ’ or ‘imitator of Christ.’ When the non-believers saw the disciples’ godly lifestyles, it was so evident that God was actively alive and working both within the lives of the disciples and the community as a whole. The members of Antioch church were not simply attending a church but they each became a church on the move. And it was through their genuine faith and deep spirituality that the church was able to make such a great impact for God’s Kingdom. God is calling each one of us to become the church wherever we are each day.
God has given our church such an exciting vision to move forward and to be part of His Kingdom work in the world. I would like to invite every one of you to join God’s adventure as we continue to grow into a healthy disciple and a healthy community that is gospel-centered, with a missional DNA, and where deep spirituality is cultivated for His glory and purpose.
Reverend Jason Noh
Senior Pastor, New Hope Fellowship