The mission of the church was given by Jesus in Matthew 28: go and make disciples of all nations. So it is always refreshing to be in a church where there is clear evidence that disciples are being made and that people are being brought to faith in Jesus. In fact, that should be a hallmark of every healthy church, and when new faith is absent, there will be other problems, too.

We just attended a church where there were some fantastic signs of new life. This church is part of large, evangelical denomination. It has been in existence for a long time. Their building is old and typical of the churches built in the middle of the last century. Just a few short years ago, they were on the verge of collapse. But there is new life in this old wineskin, and it was wonderfully refreshing!

The church just called a new pastor who is youthful and preaches in a relaxed, conversational manner. Yet the rock solid truth of Scripture is not in any way compromised. He knows his people and freely interacts with them by name while preaching. Though they meet in a long, narrow, cathedral-style auditorium, they turned the whole thing sideways so it is much more intimate. The music is contemporary and upbeat. The energy during the worship service was nothing short of exhilarating. These people were excited to be in church!

To illustrate one of his points during the sermon, the pastor used an object lesson involving flour. He filled a measuring cup, then pressed it down and added more flour. He asked for help from a young man sitting on the front row, and as this man began to pour the flour, he uttered these telling words: it’s been a long time since I had a white substance in my hands. The place erupted in laughter and applause as the entire body celebrated this man’s freedom from drugs and his newfound freedom in Jesus! It was a delightful example of the freshness and beauty of a new believer, something missing from far too many of our churches today.

We drove away full of joy and encouragement. This was essentially a church restart, a dying body of believers just a few years ago, and the evidence was clear: the Holy Spirit has breathed new life into this church and I anticipate great things ahead. The adjective that keeps rolling around in my head is “refreshing.”

We attended this church close to Easter just past, and I couldn’t help but think about the significance of the resurrection in terms of the local church. Jesus came back to life after being dead for three days. The resurrection to new life is a reality for those who place their faith in Jesus. But there is also resurrection to new life for local churches. This local church proves it. I was talking to a church leader recently who told me it had been months, perhaps years, since anyone had come to faith in or through his church. Clearly that church needs an infusion of resurrection life. But one thing is for sure: God can and does raise the dead! We discovered that He not only raises human beings, but He also raises local churches!

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