4. The Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.

According to Matthew 16:18, it's Jesus' church. According to Acts 20:28, it's God's. Same difference.

Pastor, I know your name is on the sign out front. Thank you for your faithful work, but it's not your church.

Deacons, thank you for your years of sacrificial effort and service. But it's not your church.

Church members with seniority, thank you for hanging in there through good times and bad, but it's not your church.

Those who have given the most money, thank you for your generosity and sacrifices, but it's not your church.

And church polity aside, congregation, thank you for coming and working and giving and praying, but it's not your church.

It's His Church. And the only question on our lips every time we meet to do His business should be "What would you have us do?"

5. Whatever we do to the church, Jesus takes personally.

Scary thought, isn't it?

Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that when he touched one of "the least of these my brethren" to harm them, he was "persecuting me." (Acts 9, 22, 26)

The New Testament calls the church the "Bride of Christ," the "Body of Christ," and other names such as the household of faith, the family of God, a holy priesthood, and so forth.

Jesus taught that when we helped even one who believed in Him, He took it personally (Matthew 25:40) Likewise, when we failed to minister to such a one--or even when we brought harm to that one--He took that personally also (Matthew 25:45).

This is consistent with the Old Testament where God put His reputation and Honor upon the Jews. However the outside world treated them, God repaid them in kind. However, the Lord went one step further and told His own people that whatever they did for "the House of the Lord," they were doing for Him. In Malachi 3:8, God told the Jews that by withholding their tithes and offerings, they were "robbing God."

Serious, serious stuff.

Just today, a friend quoted Dr. Adrian Rogers who said concerning the Church and the Lord Jesus: "They're not identical--but they're inseparable!"

6. God sends pastors, not to make the church members happy, but to make them healthy and holy and Himself happy.

At least one pastor out of ten--I don't care what denomination--has been ousted from a church because the members were unhappy with him. (That's just my number; nothing scientific about it, so don't quote it as authoritative, please.)

"Well," one church honcho says, "My understanding is that if the people are not pleased with him, it shows the preacher is failing at his job."

I am not saying that every pastor whose people want him to leave is automatically doing a lousy job. He might be. Or maybe not.

Show me one place in all the Scripture where the pastor (or any other leader) is sent to please the people, and I'll show you ten where the people rose up in arms against a faithful leader who was serving God well. We'll start with Moses and go to Jeremiah and on to Paul. You will notice we skipped the best example of all, the Lord Jesus.

May I suggest the best response when someone suggests the pastor ought to leave because some of the members are unhappy with him? Laugh at them. That's all. Laugh out loud. And then add, "Are you serious? Read your Bible, man." And then walk away.

7. The best thing your church has to offer Christians is fellowship.

Now, the best thing the church has to offer the world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be sure. However, once they are in the kingdom, fellowship with other believers is the greatest need of believers. By that, we mean they need regular, close contact with people like themselves who are also serving Jesus. They need time to visit, to talk, to argue, to pray together, and laugh and work and serve.

In the typical church there is planned fellowship and unplanned fellowship. The planned kind takes place at assigned times in a Sunday School class or on a mission trip. The spontaneous kind involves hallways and parking lots and coffee shops and living rooms.