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December 29, 2007

How the Apostle Paul identifies the marks of a healthy church

by Dave Malnes

The Apostle Paul demonstrates a special affection and fond memories for the young church in Philippi. Many times, he may have recalled the amazing conversion stories that helped launch the congregation. He ponders all the good reports he has been receiving and the number of times the church provided for his needs during his imprisonment in Rome. With a heart overflowing with love, he pours out words of thanksgiving to the Lord this special church.  

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 1:3-6)

It is essential for a missionary to have partners in the work of their ministry. They need people to support them through their prayers, financial gifts, and in some cases, to serve with him in the difficult work of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. A missionary will always remember with joy those who had supported his work. From this letter, we can see that the church in Philippi is a living and active church that is very involved as a partner in Paul’s ministry.   

A church can only be effective in reaching out to its community when there is a sense of partnership among its members. A healthy church will worship, pray and study God’s Word together. They will consider each other as important members in the body of Christ. They will mutually encourage one another and are helpful in all aspects of the ministry. There is a measure of joy in their work and will readily accept opportunities to serve. A healthy church will welcome the spiritual gifts and the willingness of young adults to serve along side them. It is vitally important for young believers to become a part of a healthy congregation and feel they are part of the ministry.   

Paul, who is never afraid to use bold words, is “confident” that the Philippians will continue to be partners with him and serve the Lord until that “day of salvation” when Christ returns. Paul was not confident in their ability, nor does he have self-confidence in his own tenacity and commitment. He was confident that they were going to fully rely on the Holy Spirit to persevere and be loyal servants until the end.

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