How Will They Remember Us?
“The Area’s Exciting Church!”
“A Church Alive is Worth the Drive!”
“The Fellowship of Excitement!
“A Church for the Whole Family!”
“The Community Church!”
“The Caring Place”
“Great Worship and Exciting Music.”
The phrases above are actual slogans used by churches. Some of them are taken from radio commercials. Others are used in newspaper and television advertisements. Still, others are the key slogans posted on stationary, social media, web sites, banners, and even on the sides of church vans.
It is safe to assume that, if churches are using these slogans, then they want people in the church and community to remember them that way. Whether it be excitement, community, family, or life, these churches are indicating their memorable characteristics by their slogans. Many churches have slogans they use to let people know how their fellowship should be remembered. As I look at these, I must ask “How do people remember our church?” Or, better yet, “How does God want people to remember our church?”
Does God want people to remember our excitement? Does God want people to remember our care? Does God want people to remember our family programs? It seems that the best answer to this question is to investigate the Scriptures. How are the effective churches in the New Testament remembered by the greatest church planter of all?
The Apostle Paul started churches all over the Roman Empire. After starting a church, he would move on to the next city or population center to begin a new fellowship. Yet, he never lost touch with his “babies” – the new churches he had birthed. While he kept in touch with some of these churches more than others, he often indicated what he remembered about them. Paul had these churches on his mind, and he could not help but remember the key elements about them. What did Paul remember about his churches?
In 1Corinthians 1 Paul says,
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind– just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you-- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 1:4-7, NAS).
Paul remembers the way that God’s grace was poured on the church in Corinth. He remembers how God had spiritually equipped and enriched them to carry out His Great Commission. And, in spite of the fact that the Corinthians had a lot of dysfunction in their fellowship, Paul still remembered the spiritual gifts with which God had equipped them.
In Ephesians 1:15-16 Paul says, I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. (NAS). His memory of the Ephesian Christians goes back to what he has heard about their love and faith. He is encouraged by their love for Christ, for one another, and their powerful faith in God.
As Paul writes the church in Philippi, he says, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy...you are all partakers with me of grace.” (Philippians 1:3-4,7b NKJV). Paul possessed a special affection for the Philippians, because they reached out to him and supported him well above what other churches did. Yet, his memory went back to their spiritual service and show of God’s grace.
How about the Colossian Christians? How did Paul feel about them? After all, we are almost certain that Paul did not personally go to Colossae, but one of his converts started the church there. What did Paul know or hear about them? According to Colossians 1:3-4 Paul says, “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.” (NKJV)
Paul, when thinking of a church where he had not actually been, was reminded of what he had heard. The faith and love of the Colossians is what Paul had heard about and what Paul was reminded of repeatedly.
Another Church that Paul remembered fondly was the church in Thessalonica. In reference to his memory of them and thoughts toward them Paul says he remembers “without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father” (1Thessalonians 1:3, NKJV). His memory goes back to the faith, hope and love of the Thessalonians.
Time and time again Paul recounts what he remembers most about these churches. Time and time again Paul says that the things he remembers most are related to grace, spiritual maturity, love, and yielded hearts to Christ. Not once does Paul speak of programs, activities, big events, buildings or attendance figures. Without exception, the thing Paul remembered most about churches was their depth of faith, love, and spiritual growth.
WHAT DO I WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER ABOUT MY CHURCH? In a million years the buildings, programs, and budgets will be gone. Yet, what happens for eternity will endure.
I want people to be so struck by our love that they cannot forget it.
I want people to be so overwhelmed by our faith that they cannot get it out of their mind.
I want people to be so enthralled by our heart for God that they tell others about it.
I want people to be so aware of the power of God that they are drawn to salvation by it.
Those are the things I want people to remember about us. This is how, I pray, they will remember us.