Call me a local church stalker but I often monitor local churches in my area; I listen to their sermons and review their websites. I like to know the theological contributions any given church makes to personal lives and the local community. This week I listened to a series entitled "Why I Love my Church," it was a series on the mission of a particular local church. The series marked specific characteristics a church ought to possess to exemplify the love of Christ: (1) love for the community, (2) love by serving, (3) love by giving and (4) love by sharing. Each characteristic is understood as relational and contributes to the healthy nature of the church. The church is to be a community of believers (insiders) that learns, loves, grows, and serves together in fellowship for the glory of God. Yet this community of believers cannot remain insiders (people in a church community alone) but must actively serve and give to outsiders of the church (with our biblical knowledge, love, service, and financial resources); the church must reach our local communities and the world with the love of God in the gospel evidenced by our service/good works. Thus the end goal is to take our theology and apply it to our lives. A healthy church is to develop the mind--- in exegetical/expository preaching, biblical theology, church membership, discipleship, church discipline, evangelism, and apologetics--to live the gospel out in the heart. What are common deficiencies any given Church may encounter? A fine balance, between the Christian development of the mind and the heart, must be kept. Too often churches can over emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. For example, charismatics can be overly focused on emotional experiences from God to the neglect of deep bible study and reflection that digs at the theological riches and beauty of the gospel. Any given church must strive for the nine marks of a healthy church.
Don't try to be relevant, be authentic, preach the Word.