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Service Archives > Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians > The Anatomy of a Healthy Church

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The Anatomy of a Healthy Church - Philippians 4:1-5

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In the New Testament, the church is often called “the body of Christ.” Like a human body, it has many parts and functions. The church at Philippi was growing and with growth comes growing pains. In this section, Paul addressed some of them and applied the right prescription for what was threatening this group. Let’s consider five necessary components of a healthy church.

Date Title   WatchListenNotes Share SaveBuy
12/3/2017
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The Anatomy of a Healthy Church
Philippians 4:1-5
Skip Heitzig
Info
Message Summary
In the New Testament, the church is often called “the body of Christ.” Like a human body, it has many parts and functions. The church at Philippi was growing and with growth comes growing pains. In this section, Paul addressed some of them and applied the right prescription for what was threatening this group. Let’s consider five necessary components of a healthy church.
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Series Description

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Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians

In the series Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians, we learn how to find joy in the most unlikely places as we discover that God can add color to the most black and white moments in life.

Outline

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  1. A Big Heart (v. 1a)

  2. A Firm Stance (v. 1b)

  3. A Warm Embrace (vv. 2-3)

  4. A Merry Soul (v. 4)

  5. A Soft Touch (v. 5)


Study Guide

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Recap Notes: December 3, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Anatomy of a Healthy Church"
Text: Philippians 4:1-5

Path

In the New Testament, the church is often called "the body of Christ." Like a human body, it has many parts and functions. The church at Philippi was growing and with growth comes growing pains. In this section of the letter, Paul addressed some of the pains and applied the right prescription for what was threatening this group. Pastor Skip considered five necessary components of a healthy church:

  1. A Big Heart (v. 1a)
  2. A Firm Stance (v. 1b)
  3. A Warm Embrace (vv. 2-3)
  4. A Merry Soul (v. 4)
  5. A Soft Touch (v. 5)


Points

A Big Heart

  • The ministry of a church is not about property or pews, but people. If a church withers and dies, it's because the people in it have withered and died.
  • In this text, a spat between two women affected the unity of the body. Yet this passage also gives components of a healthy church. 
  • Paul affirmed his love for the Philippian believers, calling them "my beloved" (v. 1). He provided guidance in how to resolve the disagreement and bring unity.
  • The love of Christ is the mark of the church. By loving one another, we make the invisible God visible. If we are a community of nurturing, caring, and loving people—crossing barriers of age, sex, race, and rank—the world will see the love of Christ.
  • Notice the other words Paul used to express his love for the church: longed for, my joy, and crown. Paul was saying, "This loving relationship I have with you is my reward."
  • Probe: Discuss what first attracted you to church. Was it the music, the message, or the Maker—Jesus? And whatever got you through the door, what was it about Jesus that attracted you the most?
A Firm Stance

  • Paul's big heart was balanced by a firm stance; he needed to help heal a division.
  • Church isn't just a place to belong and feel affirmed, but a place of deep conviction. With deep conviction comes possible confrontation with other believers.
  • Stand fast means persevere, which is akin to a soldier standing in battle. Paul's message was, "Don't waiver; stay on track, steady in God."
  • Spiritual instability leads to doubt, discouragement, and disappointment. Unstable people are crushed by trials, overwhelmed by circumstances, and overtaken by temptation. We need a firm stance to follow Jesus no matter what.
  • Probe: Share about a time you needed to take a firm stance for the cause of Christ. What was the outcome? How did your stance affect you personally?
A Warm Embrace

  • The two women mentioned, Euodia (meaning good journey) and Syntyche (meaning fortunate), were most likely two prominent members of the church, laboring with Paul in the gospel. Sadly, they are best remembered for their dispute.
  • Unity among Christians proves the veracity of the Christian message; disunity undermines our witness.
  • With such different and diverse perceptions within the church, how can we, like an orchestra, make harmonious music together? We must subordinate our own feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor, Jesus Christ.
  • Embrace nonessential differences; God has places and purposes for us all.
  • Probe: Discuss ways in which Christians are to settle disputes (see Matthew 18; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8; James 4:7-10). According to Matthew 18, what are four major steps a Christian should follow to settle conflict?
A Merry Soul

  • Paul repeated the theme of joy: "Again I will say, rejoice!" (v. 4). Joy is a choice more than a feeling; it's a decision, not a sensation. It's an outlook on life—and we're to seek it always.
  • Paul had reason to feel dejected: he had been imprisoned, beaten, and persecuted. He didn't choose defeat but delight—the joy of the Lord.
  • Gladness is a better witness than grouchiness. As Ben Franklin said, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
  • Probe: Merry is an adjective meaning cheerful and lively. Why should Christians exude merriment and joy? What characteristics exemplify a joyful life? How should the joy we find in Christ be reflected in our relationships with others?
A Soft Touch

  • A healthy church actively awaits Jesus' return and is gracious as it waits.
  • When a conflict arises in the church, God's people need to be gracious, gentle, and diplomatic. A soft touch is needed.
  • The word Paul uses for gentleness means sweet reasonableness. It means we should show mercy when we see others' faults and failures.
  • No one starts out as a mature, spiritually knowledgeable Christian. Learn to show grace, cutting other Christians some slack.
  • When there's a conflict at home, work, or church, it's the soft touch that heals. Paul was saying, "Be famous for your gentleness." Why? Because the Lord is at hand; God's presence is with us.
  • Probe: Share about a time someone harshly corrected you. How did it feel? Compare that to a soft touch—a kind correction. What are the major differences between the two approaches and the possible differing outcomes?
Practice

Connect Up: In Ephesians 4:15, Paul encouraged Christians to speak "the truth in love."  How does God speak both truth and love through Christ? How does God speak truth and love to the world? Why are both needed in our relationship with the Lord, who offers a soft touch and a warm embrace, but also takes a stand for His truth through His Word?

Connect In: The early church was not perfect. Like the church today, there were problems. Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 give us a protocol for conflict resolution. What can we learn from these texts about handling conflict within the church?

Connect Out: How can each of Skip's five points act as a guide in evangelism? How can people see the love and truth of Christ through a big heart, firm stance, warm embrace, merry soul, and soft touch?

Additional Messages in this Series

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4/23/2017
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A Joy Unexpected
Philippians 1:1
Skip Heitzig
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Life doesn’t have to be easy to be joyful. In fact, ease of living and joy of heart have little to do with each other. Joy is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of Jesus. Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is a letter dripping with joy and surprisingly so—it’s not what anyone would expect given the circumstances surrounding the author and the recipients. As we dip our toes into the joyful waters of this epistle, it’s my prayer that your smile will grow bigger and your heart will become lighter.
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4/30/2017
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News Flash: You’re a Saint!
Philippians 1:1-2
Skip Heitzig
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You've heard it before. Someone excuses his or her crude behavior by saying something like, "Well, I'm no saint, but I do the best I can." Or, "She's so wonderful; she's a saint!" The idea most folks have is that saints are those who've died and attain special status because of their unusual accomplishments while they lived on earth. Nothing could have been further from Paul's mind when he wrote this letter to living "saints." I hope you're one.
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5/7/2017
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The Family Business
Philippians 1:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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No matter what you may do for a living, there is a higher purpose for your life. No matter what you do for work, God is at work in you and through you. You may have a career in mind, but God has a calling in mind. These are not contradictory paths but complementary ones. The apostle Paul assured his audience of God's work collectively, personally, and practically. We are the objects as well as the instruments of God's work in the world.
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5/14/2017
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Pray for Love
Philippians 1:9-11
Skip Heitzig
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Love is the subject of more songs than any other topic. It's a word that falls off countless lips effortlessly and often without thought. But as someone noted, "One of the great illusions of our time is that love is self-sustaining. It is not. Love must be fed and nurtured, constantly renewed." The great apostle Paul had a deep love for the Philippian believers, and they for him. But love must be understood and developed intelligently. On this Mother's Day, when we celebrate the unique love of a mom, let's also consider how our love can become mature and God-honoring.
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5/21/2017
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The Happy Prisoner
Philippians 1:12-14
Skip Heitzig
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What does it take to steal your joy? To answer that question honestly, you would need to discover what you're passionate about--what drives you and what your expectations of life are. Why is this so important? Because things won't always go your way. Unfavorable winds will toss the ship of your life around on the ocean of circumstances and heartbreaks. What do you need then? The right perspective! Let's learn these truths from Paul's prison cell in Rome.
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6/11/2017
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Pest Control
Philippians 1:15-18
Skip Heitzig
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Every group—whether it’s a club, a corporation, a homeowner association, or a church—has its share of problem people and detractors. Such can be touchy, irritable, irrational, unreasonable, contentious, or legalistic. Their words may hurt us deeply. Their actions may confuse us greatly. So how do we handle these pesky folks? Most importantly, what should we do or not do with those who name the name of Christ but act like pests?
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6/25/2017
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Can You Predict Your Future?
Philippians 1:18-21
Skip Heitzig
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If you were going to sit down and write a short description of what you wanted your future to look like, what words would you choose? Let me suggest four that come straight out of Paul's experience: joy, confidence, hope, and life. After musing over past events that brought him to prison, Paul looks ahead to his uncertain future. But these four words sum up what he expected his future to include--even if it meant his possible execution.
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7/9/2017
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Living on Earth; Longing for Heaven
Philippians 1:22-26
Skip Heitzig
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Knowing what Paul knew about heaven made him think very differently about earth. As Thomas Watson said, "Spiritual things satisfy; the more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us." It's like a kid eating his vegetables while eyeing the chocolate cake promised after the meal (the salad becomes a means to an end). Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come," indicating we should be longing for heaven. So how do we effectively live on earth with heaven ahead?
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7/16/2017
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How to Stand When They Want You to Fall
Philippians 1:27-30
Skip Heitzig
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The truth is, we’re surrounded and outnumbered! The vast majority of the people we encounter in life don’t share our values nor worship our God. The difficulty of the Christian life is that we’re called to stand up for Christ when the rest of the world wants us to sit down or fall flat. They would much rather that we keep our mouths shut and conform to their standards. Let’s consider four spiritual weapons that will help us in the fight to stand strong in our faith.
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7/30/2017
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Being Around People--While Still Being Sane!
Philippians 2:1-4
Skip Heitzig
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Relationships are hard. They take a lot of work. If you think about it, every person in the world is incompatible with every other person. Enough time together would reveal this truth. Because of this, tensions rise, emotions flare, and bad responses ensue. Every friendship, every marriage, every family, and every organization (including every church) has its relational challenges. The church at Philippi did, too, and it was that disunity that tested Paul’s joy. Let’s consider the basics and the basis of successful relationships, and move from surviving them to thriving in them.
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8/6/2017
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What Would Jesus Do?
Philippians 2:5-8
Skip Heitzig
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The campaign What Would Jesus Do? has been around for years, challenging Christians to think about what Christ might actually do in any given situation so they might do likewise. Before us, we have an example of what Jesus actually did do. His example of humility and self-sacrifice is Paul’s illustration to fortify his exhortation of loving people through lowering ourselves.
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8/13/2017
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Be Humble or You'll Stumble
Philippians 2:8-11
Skip Heitzig
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Humility is that slippery quality that once you think you have it, you don't! Also, the pathway of humility is a hard one. For Jesus, it meant the cross. But humility will always be rewarded. Using Christ as our ultimate example, Paul demonstrates how Jesus' voluntary humiliation was compensated by the Father’s lavish exaltation. So even though humility doesn't come without a price, without it, there will be no harmony, no unity.
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8/20/2017
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How to Have a Great Workout
Philippians 2:12-13
Skip Heitzig
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Every day in every city, people go to the gym to get in a workout. Running on a treadmill, spinning on a cycle, working the stair-climber, and lifting weights are becoming more and more frequent in our health-conscious culture. But money spent on a gym membership is pointless unless we take the right approach. In this message, I want to consider what it means to have a healthy spiritual life by showing you what it means to "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling." Let's be determined to stay in top spiritual shape.
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8/27/2017
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Glow in the Dark!
Philippians 2:14-18
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To make an object glow in the dark, a phosphor that will energize by ambient light and have a very long persistence (like zinc sulfide and strontium aluminate) must be applied. For a Christian to glow (shine the light of truth and salvation) in a dark culture, there are four considerations that will energize us. Today let’s study how we can penetrate a murky world.
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9/17/2017
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A Little Help from My Friends
Philippians 2:19-24
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Life without friendship is like the sky without the sun. Paul knew the value of having true friends who stuck with him during difficult times. And right in the middle of this letter, he mentioned two of them—Timothy and Epaphroditus. These two guys helped shoulder the burdens for the apostle and brought him great joy. As we consider Timothy's friendship profile, see how many of these qualities are present in your own life.
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10/1/2017
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How to Treat Good (but Imperfect) People
Philippians 2:25-30
Skip Heitzig
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Some of the greatest people I have ever met have been relatively unknown individuals. They serve diligently behind the scenes with no desire for the limelight. Their names are not known to men, yet they are known to God. But even the choicest servants of God are not perfect. We all have our blemishes, shortfalls, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and oddities. Paul gave us an excellent way to treat such people in his words about his friend Epaphroditus.
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10/8/2017
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Has Your Joy Sprung a Leak?
Philippians 3:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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I have a bicycle pump in my garage that stands constant guard to reinflate my tires. It seems that I have a slow leak in one of them. Perhaps from a very small thorn or a defect in the tube, the air slowly leaks out, leaving the ride spongy. Spiritual thorns that deflate joy can also threaten our Christian experience. Let’s consider some simple principles that firm up our life journey and keep "the joy of the Lord" intact.
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10/15/2017
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Get a Real Testimony!
Philippians 3:4-8
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I have heard various people give their testimony over the years. A testimony is the story of how you came to believe in Christ personally. What is your story? Could you tell it to someone? You should be able to trace the steps you took in your life’s journey from aimless wandering to purposeful living as a Christian. These verses are Paul’s personal testimony. Let’s consider three essential ingredients to building a real testimony.
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10/29/2017
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Benefits of Being Believers
Philippians 3:8-11
Skip Heitzig
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Being a Christian believer cost Paul a lot. He lost his status, he lost his prestige among former peers, and he landed in a foreign prison cell, facing possible execution. So what did he gain from his choice? What are the rewards and benefits of believing in Christ if the world hates you and most people misunderstand you? Today, we look at five of the benefits that offset any loss we might incur. These gains (or profits) make up for any momentary afflictions.
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11/5/2017
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Put On Your Running Shoes
Philippians 3:12-16
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Though I prefer cycling to running, I appreciate the disciplined runner who has trained long hours and has conditioned his/her body to reach its maximum potential. One of Paul’s favorite metaphors for Christian living was the race. In this passage, he pictured the believer as an athlete competing in a footrace pushing towards the finish line. To become winning champions in this race towards Christlikeness, there are five essentials:
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11/19/2017
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Show Me Your Passport, Please!
Philippians 3:17-21
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Anytime you travel overseas, a passport is required. Your passport is a document of citizenship, denoting your country of origin and permanent residence. Your name is written on that document along with your place and date of birth. Jesus said that our names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20) because we have been born again. That makes us tourists and foreigners here on earth. In this section of Philippians, Paul gave us four distinguishing characteristics of heavenly citizens.
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12/10/2017
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Overcoming an Anxious Mind
Philippians 4:6-7
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One author noted that we could write on countless American gravestones this epitaph: Hurried, Worried, Buried. Fear, stress, worry, and anxiety ravage modern culture. These two verses of Philippians 4 are among the most treasured by Christians worldwide because of their power to overcome this tendency to be overwhelmed by anxiety. Let’s give our souls a rest by learning and practicing the truths presented here.
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There are 22 additional messages in this series.