As with community and confession, we experience oneness through the contribution of our time, talent, and treasure. The question we should be asking is not "What can the church do for me?" but, "What can I do for the church?" The tragedy of modern Christianity is that when members of the body hurt, too often we relegate them to finding resources outside the walls of the church. That is precisely why the apostle Paul exhorts us to "share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality" (Romans 12:13).

Finally, a healthy, well-balanced church is one that is committed to equipping believers to be effective witnesses to what they believe, why they believe, and Who they believe. In the Great Commission, Christ called believers not to make mere converts but to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). A disciple is a learner or follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, we must be prepared to communicate what we believe. In other words, we must be equipped to communicate the evangel (good news). If Christians do not know how to share their faith, they have never been through basic training. The gospel of Christ should become such a part of our vocabulary that presenting it becomes second nature.

We also must be equipped to share why we believe what we believe. As Peter put it, we must "always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account [reason] for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15). Too many today believe that the task of apologetics is the exclusive domain of scholars and theologians. Not so! The defense of the faith is not optional; it is basic training for every Christian.

In addition to being prepared to communicate the 'what' and 'why' of our faith, we must be empowered to communicate the Who of our faith. Virtually every theological heresy begins with a misconception of the nature of God. Thus, in a healthy well-balanced church, believers are equipped to communicate such glorious doctrines of the faith as the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that we, like the early Christian church, come to understand more fully the Biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers. Clearly, it is not the pastor's calling to do the work of ministry single-handedly. Rather, the pastor is called "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12-13).

In short, we know we have discovered a good church if God is worshiped in Spirit and in truth through prayer, praise and the proclamation of the Word; if the oneness we share in Christ is tangibly manifested through community, confession, and contribution; and if the church is equipping members as witnesses who can communicate what they believe, why they believe, and Who they believe.

Worship, Oneness, and Witness equal WOW!

For further information, log onto the Christian Research Institute's Web site at www.equip.org.
Adapted from Hank Hanegraaff, 
The Bible Answer Book (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2004)

Publication date: January 21, 2010