“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:13-18. .
In the above passage Jesus takes his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asks them a question. “Who do people say I am?” he asks. The disciples respond with a variety of names…”this prophet” or “that prophet” they say. But Jesus presses them. “Who do you say I am?” The bold reply comes from Peter, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.”
Peter’s answer may have been bold, but Jesus’ declaration is shocking. He says “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Jesus informs his followers that he will build his church in the midst of and in spite of the powers of the world. And Hell will nor prevail against it.
There are people who see the church as a business, as an institution whose primary goal is to make sure attendance and budget numbers are up. The secondary goal is to have as many ministries or amenities as needed to keep the attendance and budget numbers rising. There are many perceptions and opinions on what the church is, but only one that matters.
God has a clear design for His church. The church is not to be a place where believers run and hide and isolate themselves from culture. The Church is not an organization. It is not an institution. It’s not a building. It’s people. The church is to be moving forward on the gates of hell. That means we must be all about communicating the gospel message to those who are far from the heart of God.
We need be a church that makes a difference. We want the whole world to know and follow Jesus. That is our vision. We do this by engaging, encouraging, and equipping people who go out and make a difference in people’s lives. We want to connect people with like passions and encourage them to prayerfully dream about how they can make a difference and affect change in that area. We want to find new and better ways to invest our church resources, time, and energy into making that happen. Why? Because that is the design that God has for His church. Not a bigger building, but committed people fulfilling the vision God has for their life.
- What is God’s design for the church in your own words?
- What would church look like if everyone contributed their gifts?
- How can we best allow God’s church design to guide our worldview and even our daily decisions?
- Do you believe you should be a member of a church?