7 Things I'd Like to See More of in the Church

by J. Randal Matheny, editor

Not long ago, I wrote the article, “What I Love About the Church.” I mention it because I write now about what I’d like to see more of in the church, as one who believes in the church of our Lord and has worked for decades as a part of the body of Christ.

I’m no church basher, no change agent, and these are no cheap shots I’m taking.
I harbor hopes that my wishes expressed here represent a desire to draw closer to that pattern expressed in the New Testament of what the church should be. We always have room for improvement, and these seven things point toward areas where we might be able to grow.

In our most recent trip to the U.S., we spoke to or visited some 15 congregations in a seven-week period. Some of the points below were inspired by the positive things we saw in them and a desire to see more of the same; others are weak points observed in some places.

#1. More Shepherds Given Double Honor.

Churches first think of hiring a preacher; perhaps a congregation might first consider supporting an elder.

The “double honor” for elders, mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:17, means giving them financial help as they go about their task. The New Testament seems to point toward elders as a key to a church’s spiritual health.

#2. More Shepherding and Less Decision-Making.

Some shepherding can be done through decision-making, of course, but teaching and exhortation, both personal and public, are needed.

I’d like to see more elders teaching Bible classes to all age groups, leading the congregation in prayer, publicly exhorting the saints. “If a man desires to be an overseer, he desires a good work” (1 Timothy 3:1 PEB).

#3. More Time Spent Among Christians in Homes.

Americans seem to be showing less hospitality in their homes than they use to do. Hospitality is still present, but it’s often shown in restaurants or church buildings.

These days, visiting preachers are put up in motels. When I was a kid, we kept them in our home, and what a blessing it was!

In the home so much can be done for Christ. Our Lord went into people’s homes, often inviting himself, to great effect. “I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5 NET).

#4. More Emphasis on Prayer, and More Careful Selection of Men Qualified to Lead Public Prayers.

Perhaps a return of the Wednesday night prayer meeting is in order. Christians sometimes get together and never give a nod to prayer. Public prayers are seen as a place for new worship leaders to get their start. As a result, prayers are often shallow, murmured, or inexpressive.

Prayer is not the place to skimp! Jesus’ prayers weren’t a ritual, but a vibrant, often intense expression of his heart. “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

#5. More Focus on the Single Mission of The Church to Save Souls.

Churches are calling all sorts of activities missions, have so diversified that they lack God’s objective. Many need to return to the direct proclamation of the gospel.
Evangelism needs to be the hub of all that’s done. Where are the one-on-one studies being done?

The order to evangelize still stands, “according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26 NET).

#6. More Service and Less Talk of Leadership.

Please don’t talk to me about “servant leadership.” I still haven’t found that phrase in my Bible. I do read about towels, washbasins, and crosses.

Churches often use business leadership principles as a guide, strained through evangelical books. Time to get back to Jesus’ pattern of serving. “[T]hrough love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 NET).

#7. More Holy Kissing.

Well, hugging or however you want to show your love and appreciation for the brethren. The Allenhurst, Ga., church has this one down.

Our politically correct world shies away from touching. We’re afraid to demonstrate our affections. Acts 20:37 would embarrass most of our people. “Greet one another with a loving kiss” (1 Peter 5:14 NET).

Being All God Wants Us to Be

I deeply love the church of our Lord. That’s why I mention these seven items. Surely, we need to work in other areas as well, but these are some that appeared to me. May the family of God become in every place all our heavenly Father meant for it to be.

I understand that these changes start with me. I’m working on them, within my sphere of action. Join with me to make a difference.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet. His microblog is randal.us.

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11 thoughts on “7 Things I'd Like to See More of in the Church

  1. I agree with 6.25 of 7 of these, particularly #2, #6, and #7. Some very good suggestions here.
    However, one question and one concern.
    Can you explain more about how “double honor” means financial support? That seems to be a stretch to me, but your knowledge is deeper than mine so I am hoping you can help me out.
    I am concerned about the wording of men “qualified to lead public prayers.” I totally agree with the wishes you have for our prayers to be heartfelt and not a collection of regurgitated phrases. But I don’t see how someone could not be “qualified” to lead a public prayer (outside of being a Christian that is). Maybe the burden/onus is on the stronger Christians to be examples in the way that we pray instead of trying to determine who can do it “right” and who can’t.
    May God continue to bless your work.

  2. Thanks, John, for your kind comments. “Honor” (Gr., “time”) can be used of monetary honor, much like we use the word honorarium. See, for example, 1 Tim. 5:3, where it also implies in financial assistance for widows. Other uses can be found in Matthew 27:6 (“money”) and Matthew 27:9 (“price”).
    Here’s a list of the verses in the NT with the word “honor” (Gr., “time”):
    http://net.bible.org/search.php?search=greek_strict_index%3A5092&page=1&order=book
    The context of 1 Timothy 5 (verse 18) also makes it clear that financial support is in mind.
    I hope this is helpful.

  3. Thanks for the reply, Randal. I will definitely look into your answers tonight. Thank you for your time and insight!

  4. John, I forgot to address your other question. Obviously, any Christian man could, by virtue of his position in Christ, word a prayer before a congregation. I wasn’t clear, however, by what I meant by “qualified,” which is to say, a person who can express himself adequately, clearly, and appropriately for the moment, in order to direct the congregation’s thoughts so that at the end they can heartily say “amen.” A neophyte or someone inexperienced in public speaking may not be the best one to do this. I’m not saying one has to be a perfect speaker. Here in SJC we have a brother of humble means who is very grammatically incorrect, but is able to speak from the heart and lead prayer very well.

  5. A simple but excellent and challenging article! Full of uncommon common spiritual sense. Thinking of others may not always be our first reaction but that is the very thing at the heart in each of these suggestions. Thanks for all the work you do to encourage the faith of others. (Hebrews 3:13)

  6. Elders should do more “shepherding.” Some elderships seem to be comfortable with taking care of the building, making decisions on what soap to buy for the restrooms and how to keep down expenses. While they’re concentrating on those relatively unimportant matters, their members are spiritually suffering.

  7. You’ve probably heard that old saw about the preacher doing the elders’ work, the elders doing the deacons’, and the deacons twiddling their thumbs, or something similar.

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