Ramon J. Canals, DMin, serves as secretary of the Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

Have you ever asked, What does the ideal church look like? As a young pastor, I had an idea of the perfect church. I left seminary with a mental picture of such a church, and I even identified the church. I did not tell anyone, but secretly I hoped to become the pastor of that church. I began to think of all the things I could do with a church like that. I was coveting the largest and most influential church in the conference, but I was sent to the smallest church district in the conference. God has a way of teaching us humility.

As pastors and church leaders, we are continually fascinated by the thought of an ideal church—a model of religious worship, fellowship, and growth. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois exemplified a new vision for worship, drawing countless at­­tendees with its novel worship and outreach methods. I visited the church with a group of young pastors, all enthusiastic to glean insights and adopt successful strategies. Meanwhile, the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea emerged as another beacon of influence. Pastors and spiritual leaders from around the world flocked to South Korea, drawn by the church’s distinctive worship and the charisma of its lead pastor. Both examples undeniably pique our interest and inspire us.

But does the Bible offer guidance on the kind of churches God wishes us to establish? Church pioneer Ellen G. White states, “The first and second chapters of Colossians have been presented to me as an expression of what our churches in every part of the world should be.”1 So, what are the qualities found in the Colossian church that have global significance? Here are 12 qualities that may be replicated worldwide:

  1. Have faith in Christ Jesus. Believing and trusting in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior. They had the faith of Jesus and faith in Jesus (Col. 1:4).
  2. Show love for all the saints. Having a genuine love for all believers in the church—not just some of the saints but all the saints (v. 4).
  3. Store up hope in heaven. Maintaining a heavenly perspective and ultimate hope in a glorious future (v. 5).
  4. Understand the grace of God. Acknowledging and receiving God’s grace. Only those who understand God’s grace can offer it to others (v. 6).
  5. Bear fruit and grow. Demonstrating spiritual growth and the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 6, 10).
  6. Prayerfully seek God’s will. Constantly engaging in prayer. Pursuing knowledge and understanding of God’s will (v. 9).
  7. Live worthy of the Lord. Striving to live lives pleasing to God (v. 10).
  8. Have endurance and patience. Exercising spiritual endurance and patience (v. 11).
  9. Have joyful thankfulness. Displaying gratitude to God with joy (v. 12).
  10. Recognize Christ’s supremacy. Understanding and acknowledging Christ’s preeminence (vv. 15–18).
  11. Present God’s Word in fullness. Witnessing, teaching, and preaching the complete Word of God (vv. 7, 25).
  12. Guard against deceit. Being vigilant against persuasive arguments and deceit (Col. 2:4, 8).

Where did the Colossian church learn qualities such as love, patience, and gratitude? They learned it from their leader, Epaphras, a constant intercessor for the spiritual maturity of the Colossian church (see Colossians 1:7; 4:12; and Philemon 1:23).

If you are looking for the ideal church, you may have already found it. Just ask the Holy Spirit to give you the faith, love, and commitment of Epaphras, that we may also be called servants and faithful ministers of of Christ Jesus.

  1. “Ellen G. White Comments—Colossians,” in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, ed. Francis D. Nichol, vol. 7 (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1957), 906.

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Ramon J. Canals, DMin, serves as secretary of the Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

November 2023

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