All posts by Terry Hull

Discussion: What Does the Ideal Church Look Like?

Four church members are in different situations, but they all have the exact same question.

Person A is a leader of his church. Because he wants to help lead his church in being the church God wants it to be, he has been studying the Word and asking himself: “What does the ideal church look like?”

Person B is a member of her church. However, she is frustrated. She does not believe her church is being all that God wants it to be. She is trying to sort between the concerns that are just her personal preferences and the things that are truly important to God regarding His church. So, Person B has been asking herself, “What does the ideal church look like?”

Person C is looking for a new church. Maybe he is new to the community. Maybe he has been attending a church for many years but has reached a point at which the best thing to do is seek a new church. But looking for a church is so hard! There are so many churches out there of many denominations, various sizes, different emphases. How does Person C pick the right church for his family and himself? What should he be looking for in a church? “What does the ideal church look like?”

Person D is involved in launching a new church. She and several friends attended a church planting conference, where they were convicted that it is more important than ever to be establishing new churches, and that new church evangelism is one of the best ways to reach lost souls. So, Person D and her friends have formed a core group to raise up a new church. The core group’s first step is to identify what kind of church they intend to be. What is their mission? What are their core values? What will their new church bring to the table that will advance the cause of Christ in their community? “What does the ideal church look like?”

Four different Christians in four different situations, each asking the exact same question: What does the ideal church look like?


I think a lot about that question. I have been thinking about this question since I accepted God’s call to the ministry more than 40 years ago. Over the years Norma and I have been involved in new churches, turn-around churches, churches more than 100 years old, suburban churches, rural churches, foreign churches, cell churches, churches of various denominations. Our church experience is rich and broad and varied.

What does the ideal church look like? There are many, many correct answers to that question. However, perhaps all of the answers can be divided into three categories:

• Essentials: There are some things that are essentials for every church, whether new or old, large or small, foreign or domestic. Scriptural mandates. Minimum requirements. Non-negotiables. For example, every church should uphold the gospel of Christ. Every church should turn to God’s Word as its ultimate authority. What are other essentials for God’s church that transcend time and culture?

• Strategies: Many details about a church depend upon circumstances: the community, the culture, the church members, the identity of those to be reached, etc. We might call these strategic considerations. For example, it continues to be a good strategy in modern America to have a Sunday morning large-group meeting that is open to the public. The Scriptures never mandate such meetings, but they have been a fixture of our culture for a long time and continue to be useful in training believers and reaching the lost. However, in some places, such as countries where Christians are persecuted, it may be a better strategy to have secret meetings in people’s homes, as was the practice of some 1st century churches. What are some values that may not be essentials but may be good strategies in the goal to be an ideal church?

• Preferences: Many things about a church are strictly personal preference. There may not be anything wrong with that. There are a lot of different people out there; maybe it takes a lot of different churches to reach them all. Some churches prefer a formal, quiet, reflective worship service. Some churches prefer an informal, noisy, interactive service. Which is right? Maybe in God’s eyes both are fine. Different kinds of churches reach different kinds of people. What are some preferences that might contribute to achieving the goal of being an ideal church?

My current context is Edmond, Oklahoma, a comfortable suburb of Oklahoma City, where I live and go to church. What does the ideal church look like in Edmond, Oklahoma, in 2013? What are the essentials? What are the best strategies? What are the most desirable personal preferences?


Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect church. And if there was a perfect church, they wouldn’t let me attend, to prevent me from ruining things. However, every church should have the goal to be all that God wants it to be, and every Christian should want to be part of a church that has that goal. It is impossible to achieve any goal without first identifying the goal, making it as specific as possible, and envisioning it in our thoughts, our hearts, and our prayers. Every church leader and every church member should have that: a very specific vision of the ideal church to which we aspire to be.


What does the ideal church look like? Would you help me answer that question? I would love to know your thoughts. What does an ideal church in an Oklahoma City suburb in 2013 look like?

We can probably easily identify 20 or 30 or 40 values that an ideal church would embody. Some are Scriptural mandates. Some are good strategic values considering our community and culture. Some are just personal preferences, but we all have them, so we might as well acknowledge them.

What are one or two such values that occur to you? Whether it is an essential or a strategy or a preference, what do you think the ideal church looks like?

Updated Information About our January 2013 Evangelism Trip to Costa Rica

Our evangelism trip to Costa Rica, set for January 21-28, 2013, is shaping up to be a very special event.

As in previous years:
* We will be hosting a three-day Preaching-Teaching Convention for hundreds of Costa Rican believers.
* We will be conducting a Leadership Luncheon and Seminar for about 50 CR pastors and pastor’s wives.
* We will be offering free health clinics to low-income rural citizens.
* Wee will be doing a construction project to assist an impoverished Costa Rican church.

Are you interested in joining our team? The time to decide is now! Please click here to find a detailed prospectus with all the information you need about our trip: CR4C-Jan2013-Prospectus2. Then contact us right away and let us know that you are in!

If you can’t come, will you partner with us by being one of our financial supporters? We need to raise several thousand dollars between now and January to do all of the projects we have planned on this ambitious evangelism trip. Will you help get our fundraising campaign off to a good start with a generous donation today?

You can make a donation online using your credit card or bank card by going to our: Contact/Donate page. Or mail your donation to the mailing address on that same page.

Thanks! Please keep us in your prayers.

First Call for January 2013 Evangelism Trip to Costa Rica.

Would you like to travel to Costa Rica with us in January for a week of adventure, evangelism, outreach projects, fellowship and worship?

This is Joshua One Ministries’ first call for CR4C January 2013, Costa Rica For Christ’s upcoming week-long adventure

If you have a possible interest in joining our team, please read the following information and respond to let us know you are interested.

If there is no way you can join us, please become one of our senders! Really! Please!

Last year we came up way short of the funds we needed. At the last minute, a couple of wonderful churches and a couple of very generous individuals wrote some large checks to make it possible for us to proceed. Even then, we had to make some cuts in the ways we were able to bless the churches we were visiting.

OK, I admit it. I need to do a much better job of fundraising this year! So here I am, starting right now, asking for your help. Will you help get us off to a good start by writing a generous check right now? We need your support in a big way to do everything I know God wants us to do while we are in Costa Rica in January.


This will be the sixth consecutive year we have made this journey. We have taken groups ranging in size from 13 to 39 people in previous years.

• Dates: January 21-28, 2013. That’s Monday to Monday, exactly four months from now.

• Travel: We will fly from OKC through Dallas or Houston to San José, CR. If you are closer to another large city, we may be able to arrange for you to fly from there and connect with us in Dallas or Houston.

• Lodging: We will stay in an economical hotel in or near San José. Probably the Hotel Maragato (, where we have stayed previously.

• Cost: We are still developing the budget. Cost was $1750 per person the last two years and will be close to that this year, depending on airfare and hotel costs.

• Passport: You must have a passport, so if you don’t have one, please get the paperwork started now.


We are visiting with Rodrigo Rojas, our senior evangelist in Costa Rica, about how we can make the most impact for the Kingdom this year. In previous years:

• We have done construction projects, such as a Classroom/Dormitory building for our Bible Institute in San José, a restroom facility for a church in San Miguel, and a Sunday School classroom addition for a church in the village of Santa Elena.

• We have offered free health clinics in impoverished rural villages, with Costa Rican doctors and U.S. nurses providing health care and our team members playing various supporting roles.

• Each year we conduct a Leadership Seminar for CR pastors and pastors’ wives.

The highlight of our visit is the three-day Preaching and Teaching Convention we most for believers from all over Costa Rica. This is one of the most ambitious and expensive parts of our adventure. We rent a meeting place large enough for several hundred people and we rent buses to go out to all the villages to bring our Christian brothers and sisters to the convention.

This is something they look forward to all year. We were heartbroken last year to have to cancel some of the buses because of lack of funds, which meant some believers who wanted to attend were unable to.


If you love the Lord and you love others, we can definitely use you on our team. Even if you have no specials talents or are in less than perfect health, if you have love in your heart, we’d love to have you.

If you do have a special skill — translation, construction, medical, children, music, preaching, teaching — all the better. Each year we look forward to seeing who God calls to join our team and then we find ways to use each person in a unique way.

But the most important thing we bring to Costa Rica each year is our love. The No. 1 purpose of this trip each year never changes:

Loving fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters in CR. We want our fellow Christians in CR to know that we love them and are praying for them. They really look forward to our visit each year, and we really look forward to going! We go so that we and our CR brethren “may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Rom 1:12).

You can do that, can’t you?


First, please send me an email: to , letting me know that you want to go or that you are interested. Or use our online Contact form.

Second, send a $100 nonrefundable deposit to hold your place. Soon we will need to pay deposits to hold our airline reservations. So we need to hear from you and we need your deposits. Additional payments will be due in late Oct, early Dec and early January.

Can can mail your deposit — or if you are sender, mail your donations — to:

Joshua One Ministries  *  P.O. Box 8464  *  Edmond, OK 73083

Or, you can make a donation online right now on our Contact page.

New Article: Waiting for the King

Are you pining and praying, hoping and longing for the King to come? I am. I can’t wait. I know many of you feel the same way. Don’t get me wrong. I love this world. Life is a great gift, and I try to enjoy every second of it. This world is a beautiful place, and it is populated by millions of wonderful people. But we are desperately in need of a King. I can’t wait for Him to come.

For the full article, click: “Waiting for the King.”

Waiting for the King

by Terry A. Hull

Are you pining and praying, hoping and longing for the King to come?

I am. I can’t wait. I know many of you feel the same way.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this world. Life is a great gift, and I try to enjoy every second of it. I’m not one of those who thinks the world “is going to hell in a handbasket,” if that means that the world is somehow worse today than it was a few decades ago.

It is obviously true that this world abounds with atrocities. But that describes every year since the days of Noah. This world is a beautiful place, and it is populated by millions of wonderful people. But we are desperately in need of a King. I can’t wait for Him to come.

A thrilling description

Here is one thrilling description of what lies ahead, in Isaiah 2:2-4:

“In the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it.

“And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’

“For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples. And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.”

In the last days

“In the last days…” What a great phrase that is! Does your heart surge with anticipation when you consider the wonderful things that await us in the days to come, “the last days?”

To some people, I suppose, “the last days” are frightening. People fear “the end of the world.” In movies and literature the future is often a bleak, frightening time. Think about “Mad Max” and “The Stand” and “The Road” and “Falling Skies” and dozens of other books and movies and television shows of that genre. They all depict a future in which humanity is destroyed or nearly so by plague or world war or alien invasion.

Even the Bible describes a horrible time of Tribulation — of world war, lawlessness, famine and natural disaster (see Jesus’ famous end-times sermon in Matthew 24). But thankfully, that’s not how the story ends. Hardly. As a matter of fact, that dreadful Tribulation time will set the stage for the most wonderful time in all human history: Jesus’ coming Kingdom.

When Jesus began preaching (Matt 4:17), His first and repeated message was that the Kingdom is “at hand” (i.e., imminent). He traveled from city to city “proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom” (Matt 4:23). He instructed us to pray for the Kingdom to come, describing it as a time when God’s will “will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 4:10). Wow! Can you imagine?

The Messiah’s Kingdom is the No. 1 topic of the Bible. It is the main message from Genesis (where the coming Kingdom is part of the blessing God promised to Abraham) to Revelation (where the establishment of Christ’s millennial Kingdom is detailed).

The Prophets

The coming Kingdom is described in exhaustive detail in “The Prophets,” a huge section of the Bible. The Prophets are 17 Old Testament books, Isaiah to Malachi — a total of 250 chapters, about one-fifth of the entire Bible.

Right at the start of this exciting section of the Bible, in Isaiah 2, God calls our attention to the wonderful coming Kingdom. The Kingdom will come, says v. 2, “in the last days.” This is the Bible’s first use of the phrase “last days,” a phrase that is repeated several more times in the Old and New Testaments.

What does this introductory passage in Isaiah 2 tell us about Christ’s coming Kingdom? It says that in those days …

• Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. Earlier this month, Mitt Romney provoked controversy by calling Jersualem the capital of Israel. Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton have all made similar statements. Such statements are controversial because modern Jerusalem is partly under Palestinian control. However, in the last days, the Messiah will rule the world “from Zion,” “from Jerusalem.”

• “All the nations” of the world will submit to the Messiah’s rule. This Scriptures reveals the amazing truth that Christ will actually directly intervene between the nations, settling disputes and bringing justice to the world.

• Therefore, the Messiah’s Kingdom will be a time of world peace. Read v. 4 again. In our day, when the news is full of “wars and rumors of wars,” it is thrilling to read about a future time when war will be eliminated forever.

• The Messiah will preach and teach the ways of God. And, hang on for this, people will be eager to learn God’s ways. V. 3: “Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’”

What a contrast to modern times, when many people do not appear to have any appetite for sound doctrine. Even many preachers and pastors seem to be more interested in anything and everything else other than God’s Word, and most church members seem to be quite content to allow God’s Word to be ignored and their churches reduced to places of entertainment.

But in the great days to come, when the Messiah reveals Himself in all His glory, the world will have an unparalleled thirst for sound doctrine, for God’s Law, and Christ Himself will be our Teacher.

It all sounds too wonderful to be true, doesn’t it. I agree with the Apostle John, who cried out, “Marana tha!” “Come, Lord Jesus!” (“Rev. 22:20).

“Spring is coming, Spring is coming.
And all we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear.
Spring is coming, Spring is coming.
And it won’t be long now, it’s just about here.”

Steven Curtis Chapman, “Spring is Coming” (2009)