Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Six Challenges

Sundays at 9:30 and 10:45am.  
The Church You've Always Longed For
by Tom Goodman
August 13, 2008

In Ethiopia, visitors can tour a cluster of eleven church structures cut out of a single body of rock.  The architectural marvel was completed 8 centuries ago using simple tools.  According to legend, it all started when angels took Ethiopea's King Lalibela up to heaven, where God gave him the design he was to follow.  For the next 24 years, Lalibela directed the carving of these church buildings from solid rock.

I don't know if God gave King Lalibela the blueprints for a church building, but God has given us the blueprints for building a church.  God's church is not a building you go to but a body you belong to.  Starting this Sunday, we'll look at six characteristics God wants in his people -- his church.

Many articles and opinion polls tell us that people are disillusioned with churches.  In fact, according to one survey, the fastest-growing religious identification is "unaffiliated."

But I've discovered that when people look at Christ's intent for his church, their cynicism begins to melt away.  They realize that, just like they shouldn't reject Beethoven's genius because their kid's Middle School orchestra performed his work so poorly, neither should they reject Christ when his followers fall short of his expectations.

So, we're going to look at Christ's expectations.  As we continue our study through the Gospel of Matthew, we'll find six characteristics that God's people should be known for.

It's interesting to find that the kind of church Jesus wants us to be is also the church you've always longed for.  Of course, we can let our selfish preferences drive our decisions about a church.  But deep down, the things Jesus wants in our church are the things we really long to see in a church anyway: truth as well as love, boldness as well as humility, and honesty as well as forgiveness.

Of course, we're tempted to say, "Show me a church like that and I'll join it!"  In reality, we need to say, "I'll join with others to show the world a church like that."  In other words, the challenge isn't to find the perfect church but to help your church fulfill Christ's vision of the perfect church.

So, join us this week at 9:30am or 10:45am.  Bring someone with you, and let's build the church you've always longed for!

Weblog: Check out "Get Anchored." Every Sunday I post a new "Song of the Week" (This week, "Around," a new one from Sixpence None the Richer).  Also, every Tuesday I post some entertaining and informative "Links to Your World." (This week includes Olympian Ryan Hall and a Time cover story on Rick Warren.)

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