There is an annual custom in Switzerland called "walking the bound." Everyone in the village takes a ceremonial walk around the boundaries so they can check the markers. Afterward there is a celebration to express gratitude for the blessings handed down to their community.

What a great way to enjoy Thanksgiving! Check your boundaries, line up the markers and celebrate.

What are the boundaries of your church? How do you practice your faith? If someone were to walk inside your church doors, what would they discover? Does your church practice what it proclaims?

One study of successful churches discovered five ingredients common to all of them:

  1. The central focus is on prayer.
  2. A strong emphasis upon Bible study.
  3. Consistent lay testimony and involvement.
  4. There is concern for the needs of others.
  5. All of the members are in ministry.

Paul once gave this advice to a young preacher named Timothy:

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it (1 Timothy 4:7-9 NLT).

According to Paul, every church should emphasize "training for spiritual fitness." How is your church doing? Obviously, I don't know the answer but I can give you a few examples.

Emphasize spiritual growth:
There are many Christians looking for answers or looking for a Bible study, a support group or prayer group. Offer a wide variety of opportunities to strengthen people's faith whether they are just beginning their Christian journey or well along the way.

A church should pursue spiritual growth, ministry and leadership.
Seek to be in ministry:
Are you involved in a ministry or serving on a committee? Replace your many committees with teams, each with an emphasis on ministry: Here are four examples — see also the lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament for other ideas (Romans 12:3-8 for example).

  1. Congregational Care includes prayer, health concerns, and visitation.
  2. Nurture includes Sunday school, Bible studies and age-level ministries.
  3. Ministry and Missions includes your ministry in the community and around the world.
  4. Administration keeps your church building, staff and finances running smoothly.

Promote spiritual leadership:
Voting usually means somebody wins and somebody loses. Spiritual leadership means helping everyone listen to the voice of God. Experiment with basing decisions on consensus so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and everyone listens.

Offer continual encouragement:
Good churches welcome new ideas wherever they appear. Great churches create a contagious enthusiasm of involvement and encouragement. Foster an atmosphere of "spiritual boldness" believing if you are doing God's will, anything is possible.

Specialize in comfort:
Ships lost in stormy seas seek light from a lighthouse to guide them to the safety of the harbor. When visiting our church, you may notice lighthouses everywhere to reflect our mission statement: "A Light to Guide You Safely Home." We pray you will find comfort here.

Include fun and fellowship:
How often does your church offer a meal? Are there celebrations being planned? Do you know how to have fun? Is joy a regular part of your time together?

A church should pursue spiritual growth, ministry and leadership while offering an atmosphere of encouragement, comfort, fun and fellowship. Well, we've walked the boundaries and checked our borders and hopefully discovered a lot to improve and much to be thankful for. Now, let's celebrate!