If someone moves to a new area we may commend a local church to them as ‘good church’. But what criteria do we use to make such an assessment? Preaching? Youth work? Music? For Peter a good church is characterised by love , compassion, forgiveness, generosity, service and grace ( 1 Peter 4:7-11). Preaching may be eloquent and biblical, but if that is the primary characteristic then the church is merely a good preaching centre. The music may be stirring and skilled, but if that is the primary characteristic then the church is merely a good worship centre.
A good church is one where the believers share their lives together as an alternative and authentic society. Such a church will be well resourced because no one holds what they have or who they are with a clenched fist. Just as a flower unfolds before the warmth and the light of the sun, so our hands open as they are exposed to the grace of God in Christ. Grace produces grace, which is why a gospel community can only be a community of open handed, undeserved generosity.
A ‘good’ church is therefore a church in which the people ‘offer hospitality’ – not merely as a duty, but ‘without grumbling’ (4:9). Cheerful hospitality will only take place when we are convinced that nothing we have is our own but that everything we have has been given to us so that others might be blessed.
Dr Tim Chester, Everyday Church – Mission by being good Neighbours.