There are ten characteristics of congregations that are grace filled. These ten markers set them apart from the vast majority of congregations in the world. All are directed toward other people but come out of hearts that have been radically transformed by the grace of Jesus in their own lives. Congregations that have these markers are like magnets to believers who have never experienced this kind of grace and to spiritual seekers who encounter a new kind of Christian in those who exhibit these Jesus traits. Think about these markers in your life and their power when multiplied throughout a congregation.
- Grace filled people assume the best of one another. Every relationship is one assumption away from misunderstanding and misunderstandings create relationship breakage. Usually, however, our assumptions about the intention of the other party are wrong: they did not intend to cause us pain. Assuming the best of others and their actions is a grace thing to do and it prevents unnecessary relational breakage.
- When an offense has been committed either by us or against us, grace filled people quickly move to repair the relationship where that is possible. They are quick to forgive and resist holding onto offenses committed.
- Grace filled people cultivate generous rather than critical spirits towards others. There is plenty to be critical of others about just as Christ could be deeply critical about us. Like Him we choose to love rather than criticize and cultivate as spirit of acceptance (a critical spirit is really a spirit of non-acceptance). Critical spirits also come from our own pride.
- Grace filled people love to extend grace to those who need it and we all do – often. It is grace to forgive, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to love those who have fallen, to accept those who are struggling with sin, addictions or just the consequences of the fall. When hard words need to be said, they are always said in love rather than in condemnation. Their goal is always restoration and health.
- Grace filled people are transparent about their own issues, struggles and failures in appropriate settings. They don’t pretend that they have it all together (none of us do). They are willing to share their struggles because they are not living with masks or pretense. It takes only one man to share his struggle with porn, to send a message to many others also struggling in secret that there are others like them and it is OK to admit one’s need. Transparency is the first step toward growth.
- Grace filled people love to pray for others. In grace filled congregations it is a common sight to simple see people in conversation and then being prayed for. Issues of life are quickly lifted up the the throne without embarrassment or apology. Taking people and their situations to the throne of God is valued, practiced and habitual.
- Grace filled people love the unloved, those who live on the margins, those who the rest of society forget or shuttle to the side. This includes the poor and the disabled. Just as Jesus had a radar for the down and out so do grace filled people. They have cultivated the heart of God for all people, not just people like them. This is one of the reasons that grace filled congregations are always involved in the community, meeting needs and sowing love.
- Grace filled people love to love on others. Words of encouragement, acts of kindness, help in crisis. They are lovers of people because people matter to God. When opportunities to help others come across their path they do what they can to help, to love and encourage.
- Grace filled people speak with kind, encouraging and loving words. Words that lift, words that encourage, words that build up, words that quiet anger. People leave their presence with a greater sense of their worth and knowing that they are loved.
- Grace filled people always point people toward the source of all grace – Jesus. They are not content to be people of grace but want others to know the source of that grace. They love to introduce others to the the One from whom all grace flows, Jesus.
I wish for this kind of grace in my life and I wish for this kind of grace in my church – and in all churches.http://leadingfromthesandbox.blogspot.com/2011/08/ten-markers-of-grace-filled-people-and.html