A Message from Jesus
Near the end of the first century, John, one of Jesus’ disciples, was imprisoned on the small island of Patmos, just off the coast of Asian Minor (modern day Turkey). This was during the rule of the Roman Emperor Domitian who persecuted many Christians. John had a vision of the risen Christ and was given a message to send to seven churches he was overseeing (see Rev.1:9-11). The message to each church included some commendations (things they were doing well) as well as some challenges (things they needed to change). We have a full transcript of each message in chapters 1-3 of the book of Revelation.
Jesus is interested in the church that he is building and takes the time to give direction and instruction so that his people might fulfil his purposes for their time in history.A Message for CityLife Church
I wonder what Jesus would say to us today if he wrote us a letter (or sent us an email or an SMS)? What are we doing well at? Where do we need to grow and pick up our efforts?
He is very interested in our lives and our church. He does have thoughts and feelings about us and we can know them if we take time to listen to his Spirit living within us. I’ve spent some time in prayer and reflection over the last few weeks and this is what I think he’s saying to us as a church family right now.Commendations
There is always room for improvement, but I think there are numbers of areas where we’re doing really well as a church and I believe God would come and commend us for those.
Have you ever thought about what makes a great church? What are the indicators of a mature church? Is it the size, the spiritual gifts, the budget, the evangelism, the teaching or the mission activity? Although all of these things are good and important they are secondary to the presence of love within the community of believers. Loving relationships are to be our highest priority and are the thing that impresses Jesus the most. In fact, he said that this would be the indicator that we are his followers (see Jn.13:34-35).
As Paul planted and established many churches, he was always looking for the presence of faith, hope and love. However, it was love that pleased him the most (see 1 Thess.3:12. 2 Thess.1:3-4). Love refers to how we treat one another.
God is especially interested in how we treat ‘outsiders’ – the newcomers or visitors (see Rom.12:13. 1 Pet.4:9). God wants his church to be a place of warm hospitality that reaches out and welcomes those who are new or visiting. In fact, it is the visitor who determines the friendliness of a church. Thankfully, we receive regular positive feedback through our visitor’s ‘first impressions’ responses about the friendliness of our church. Friendliness is a great quality for a church to have. Well done, church!
- Servant Spirit.
God has designed his church to be like a human body (1 Cor.12). A human body has many different parts, each with special gifts and abilities. When each part is functioning well and doing its job the body is healthy and effective. When one or more parts aren’t then the body is hindered dramatically.
Here at CityLife Church, we have an incredible servant spirit. So many people are using their gifts, talents, time and energy to serve the mission of our church. Currently, we have 1582 ‘volunteers’ serving and helping in one or ministries of our church. That’s outstanding! So many Christians have great gifts but they either never take the time to discover them or they never use them for the benefit of others. Not you! You’ve unpacked your gifts and you’re using them faithfully. Well done, church!
The third area I believe God would commend us as a church about is the area of generosity. Generosity is really an entire approach to life that is characterised by a giving attitude – giving time, energy, encouragement, assistance and finances to help others. I want to especially commend you for your generous financial giving – to our recent building project, in weekly tithes and offerings, to missions, and to various visiting ministries we’ve had at our church over the last few months. I pray God’s richest blessing on you for your generous giving. Well done, church!
What areas could we improve in right now? What things would the Lord like us to give further attention to at this time? I’m sure there are many but let’s speak for a few moments about three.
Sample Discussion Questions
God wants us to increase our passion for reaching those who don’t know him or who are outside of his family. Like the four lepers who found food in a time of famine, we need to share the good things God has given us with others, rather than keep it to ourselves (see 2 Kings 6-7). Yes, it takes effort … and no, not everyone may believe us or respond … but we have a responsibility to GO.
We can all increase our prayer for unsaved family members and friends, and we can all increase our efforts to be a blessing, to build relationships, to meet needs and to share the gospel with those who haven’t heard (see Luke 10) – or invite them to an appropriate event (IF weekend, ALPHA, etc).
- Spiritual Fitness.
At our last All Church Prayer meeting, Nicole shared a prophetic word with the church about there being rough terrain ahead and the need for greater spiritual fitness. No doubt, we live in times of increasing pressure (see Mt.24:21. Jn.16:33) and this requires us to become stronger in spirit (Lk.1:80; 4:1-2, 14. Jer.12:5). This can only occur through increasing our spiritual disciplines – things such as prayer, Bible reading and fasting. The Christian life is not about trying hard but about training for a life of godliness (1 Tim.4:6-8. 1 Cor.9:24-27).
- Move to the ‘Next Level’ of Ministry.
It is time to graduate to the next level of ministry impact. It’s time for many to ‘go on’ to maturity and to ‘move up’ to a greater level of responsibility (see Heb.5:11-6:3). The Christian life is meant to be one of progress. Just as in the natural, we move from being a dependant baby to becoming a mature adult who contributes to the world around them.
The next level for you could be greater responsibility: people being ministered to becoming ministers, people being cared for becoming carers of others, people being discipled becoming disciplers of others, leaders of followers becoming leaders of leaders, etc.
The next level for you could be greater effectiveness. The goal is not continual promotion to more and more levels of responsibility. Maybe you’re right where you need to be and your level of contribution is rightly matched to your gifts, passion and availability. How about seeking to be more effective in your ministry impact! That may require some more effort on your part, some training or some mentoring from others more experienced than you. Whatever it takes, be the very best you can be for God’s glory.
- How do you feel about the three areas Mark commended the church for – friendliness, servant spirit and generosity? Do you agree that these are strengths of our church family?
- How do you feel about the three areas Mark challenged the church with – outreach, spiritual fitness and moving to the ‘next level’? Do you agree that these are areas for improvement?
- How would you evaluate the ‘outreach’ component of our Life Group? How could it improve?
- What do you think Jesus would say to our Life Group right now? What areas would he commend us for? What areas would he challenge us in? [Give people 5-10 minutes to write out what they think Jesus would say to the group; then have a time of sharing together]
- What would Jesus say to you individually right now? Encourage people to set some time aside to ask Jesus to speak specifically to them about their own life.