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What a Spirit Filled Church Looks Like

Updated on February 20, 2019
lambservant profile image

Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.


If the Holy Spirit were taken away from the New Testament church, ninety percent of what they did would come to a halt. But if the Holy Spirit were taken away from today’s church, only ten percent of what it does would cease."

— A.W. Tozer

Church Without the Holy Spirit

There are thousands of churches that are doing great things, and to all the world they are considered successful. Social justice is great, church programs are great, being relevant is all well and good, but a church can hold multitudes with a continuous flow of new people but not be driven and guided by the Holy Spirit. Numbers don't necessarily mean the Spirit of God is working in a church. Francis Chan, in his book, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, agrees,

"Even our church growth can happen without Him. Let’s be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday."


A Look at the First Church

The New Testament Church operated under the Holy Spirit's power. A study through the book of Acts gives all the evidence. Acts 2:42-43 tells us they (the new Church) listened to the Apostles doctrine, stayed in regular fellowship, took the Lord's Supper, prayed together routinely. These practices should be the mainstay of the Church. Spirit-empowered worship contains all of these elements and more. Following this, there was a holy reverence amongst the people, and signs and wonders were done by the Spirit's work through the Apostles.

Reading further, in Acts 2:46-47 Luke tells us "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

This passage is rich with information about the Church that we need to pay attention to:

  • They continued daily
  • with one accord ( of one or same mind).
  • in the temple (God's house).
  • breaking bread from house to house, (daily fellowship).
  • they ate with gladness and simplicity of heart (joy at being God's people, and being with God's people).
  • they praised God (gave Him glory as they worshiped and fellowshipped together).
  • they found favor with all the people (this would not last, unfortunately, because the Gospel was an offense as it spread).
  • the Church grew daily with those who were being saved (they grew with conversions).

I find it interesting that they met together daily. Apparently, they went to the temple for worship every day; but considering that on the day of Pentecost alone there were 3,000 saved, plus the numbers added to the Church daily, the house to house daily meetings likely met in groups of various sizes. They just lived a life of fellowship and worship in community. This doesn't necessarily mean we need to be in church every night of the week, but we should be doing all these things frequently, and doing it because of the joy of the Spirit in our hearts, making us want to worship and fellowship together. We are a busy world. We can find lots of things to do that distract us from meeting together often. And because the Lord was adding converts daily, they were spreading the message by inviting people in the community to join them, and sharing the message whenever the opportunity arose in their daily lives.

As the Holy Spirit continued to work, the message of the gospel and the unity of the Church began to offend the unsaved Jews, and persecution began to sweep the Church in Jerusalem. The Christians then scattered. This was good because they were able to spread the Gospel boldly around the world. They couldn't help it; the Spirit compelled them to go. And so they did.

In Acts 4:31, we read that as they prayed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness. Boldness is mentioned over and over throughout the book of Acts and the epistles. Boldly proclaiming the gospel meant the risk of being imprisoned or killed, but the Spirit that gave them boldness.

A praying church
A praying church

What Does a Holy Spirit Filled Church Look Like?

So what does a modern day, Holy Spirit filled church look like? Here are just a few things:

  • A passion for Christ and His glory in every facet of church life.
  • Bible exposition to rightly divide the word of truth.
  • The practice of discipleship and discipleship training.
  • People who joyfully and earnestly seek after godly living.
  • A church that prays, calling on the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and work; not just before and after the sermon or Sunday school lesson, perfunctory blessings, or occasional prayer meetings, and a prayer chain. These are good and necessary, but it doesn't make a church a praying church. Regular prayer meetings (either formal or informal gatherings) where the people wait upon the Lord, seek His will, pray for one another and the community, and seek to be used by the Holy Spirit.
  • Humble servant leadership. Such a leader is humble and meek, and is not interested in seeking the glory of man; rather he is interested in magnifying the Lord and equipping the saints. A humble leader knows he can only do God's will in his calling by being totally dependent on and led by the Holy Spirit of God.
  • Being of one accord (of one mind), or unity of the Spirit. This does not mean everyone agrees with everyone else's opinion on things. It means being united in their love for God, for each other, and in purpose - which is to glorify God in all aspects of their life.
  • Using the spiritual gifts to edify the body, and to glorify Christ in every way.
  • Faithful and bold proclamation of the Gospel at home and afar. Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
  • Transformed lives. If there is not a work of the Spirit, things will just hum along as always. No repentance, no one coming to Christ, no one being transformed, comfort and complacency will be the norm. Jesus called this being lukewarm in Revelation 3:16.

Be filled with the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 5:18b tells us to be filled with the Spirit. The literal rendering of this word "filled" means to be filled again and again. If we want to glorify God in our daily lives, we must call on God every day to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Do you ever feel like your spiritual well has run dry? We need to go to God and say, "Fill 'er up!" And He will. Living the abundant, Spirit-filled life is not something we can do successfully in our own strength and willpower. And isn't it great we don't have to. Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit, again and again.

A Spirit filled church bears the fruit of the Spirit.
A Spirit filled church bears the fruit of the Spirit. | Source

"Even our church growth can happen without Him. Let’s be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday."

— Francis Chan - Forgotten God

The Fruit of the Spirit

The New Testament talks a lot about bearing fruit; in other words, evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you. Then it talks about the fruit of the Spirit:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-23).

The fruit of the Spirit is Christlikeness. Paul says "If we live in the Spirit, let us all walk in the Spirit." This is a reiteration of what Paul was saying in Rom 8:5 when he stated that when our minds are on the Spirit we will live by the Spirit.

This all applies to the Church as well. When we pray, we must ask God to fill us as individuals, and when we gather together as a body, we must ask Him to fill us and empower us as a church to be Christlike in our worship and ministry. A Spirit-filled church will bear the fruit of Christlikeness, and in the harvest of souls.

So with that, let me say along with Paul in 2 Cor. 13:14 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."

© Lori Colbo 2014. All rights reserved.

© 2012 Lori Colbo


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    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      5 months ago from United States

      Marcelo, thanks for stopping by.

    • marcelocarcach profile image

      Marcelo Carcach 

      5 months ago from Westminster, MD

      Amen. I enjoyed your article and am of the same opinion. I pray for the Lord to fill me and my church with his Spirit.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Bill, glad you stopped by. I don't know of a church that meets all those requirements. I should have pointed out that the churches that were planted by Paul and company had their share of problems. Churches are made up of flawed people. I don't think it's possible to find the perfect church. We need to pray for our churches, our leaders, and seek guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Lori,

      Just going back and reading some old hubs - found this one. I like your list of what a Holy Spirit filled Church looks like. I need to go back and evaluate my own ministry in light of what you present. I have a feeling some of those things may be missing.

      I like the way you point out the difference between "fruit" and "fruits". That is a major difference I think a lot of people don't get. Thanks for all the information you provided.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 

      8 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      This is good...Jesus in John 17 prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one...we need to become one as He and the Father are one for Him to return...this is the work of the Holy Spirit...A church without the Holy Spirit is a social club and it will fail.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you for visiting Howie (love your name) and I so appreciate your comments. You are right, so many churches are offering entertainment and it's very convenient for people who really aren't interested in walking with God. Years ago my Dad and his wife began visiting a prominent church in L.A. They are not God/church type people. But he saw the preacher on TV and decided to visit a couple of times. I asked him what he thought and he said it was very entertaining and they loved seeing all the people in their finery, expensive jewelry and cars. They were a prosperity church. I felt bad my dad only went for entertainment. I prayed for him all the time, but to my knowledge, he didn't have a relationship with Jesus when he died.

    • Howie Watts profile image

      Howie Watts 

      8 years ago

      Very good reminders for all lambservant. When we seek the Holy Spirit he is ready and willing to make himself evident to us. Too often the modern day Church spends too much energy on trying to entertain those who grace their doors, and being ever so careful so as not to step on anyones toes, instead of praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and then following through on that guidance. I am so thankful that my family and I have been blessed to be a part of a Holy Spirit guided church for the last fifteen years. I look forward to learning and studying and sharing through our hubs. I just published my latest hub "Home of the Brave." Having read your bio and this hub, you may enjoy it. God Bless.

    • boyatdelhi profile image


      9 years ago from Delhi

      Very interesting. Thanks for sharing it with us.

      Keep up the good work.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thank you Tamara. You are unfortunately right about Christianity today.

      Francis Chan I believe is a humble and anointed man and that the Lord speaks through him. His book really spoke to me.

      Blessings sister.

    • Tamarajo profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent article and spot on.

      Modern day cultural Christianity bears little resemblance to the church in the book of acts. The quote by Tozer is so true as well.

      I read the book Crazy Love too and found Frances Chan to be in that vein as well.

      May we all hunger, thirst, ask, seek, and knock for the Holy Spirit to fill us and our congregations to live out the true purposes of God in the earth.

      A thorough and relevant read.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thank NW for your insightful comments. I agree that he is given credit for things that were done in the flesh, and too, he is often been given credit for what he has done. Taken for granted indeed. Perhaps it makes us feel better do say he is working in a project or something else, to convince ourselves that we are doing God's will. I look forward to reading your hub when you write it. Blessings.

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 

      9 years ago from The World (for now)

      Tozer had some great quotes, didn't he? His teachings on the Holy Spirit are invaluable as well. I listen to them often on Sermon Audio. If you haven't guessed, I agree with you, lambservant. I actually think many of the churches today use the name of the Holy Spirit and claim that He has done some work which He did not do. As a matter of fact, His name is like a byword and I was actually thinking about writing something about this. He is just taken for granted and His name is signed to activities that He would really have nothing to do with. This greatly concerns me.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      9 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      lambservant: Thank you! Indeed though impossible, minimizing the Holy Spirit and His effects within mankind would cause chaos. I am thankful that Holy Spirit is only trivialized in the "Non-believer". Holy Spirit is a fount of God's knowledge and wisdom required by all.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      9 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      It is interesting to me also that the early church met daily. When I was growing up, the churches were always open so anyone could stop in and rest a while, praying and worshiping. Most of our churches today are highly regimented and follow a strict order. That makes for impressive performances but leaves some of us longing for much more.

      Currently, we are seeking a church family and it is difficult to find one that offers a well rounded and knowledgeable worship experience.

      The Holy Spirit must be invited and recognized, you are so right about that. This is a wonderful article. thank you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Dear lambservant, what a wonderful and truthful article about Christianity today...yes, when the Holy Spirit is inside of a believer that person does get boldness and all the fruit of the Spirit as you isn't just one or the other is all, because when the Spirit of God lives in our heart, we "no longer belong to ourselves, but to God"...We are the temple of the Living God...when we know the Holy One of Israel, He changes us day by day when we ask Him to....I ask Him every day to make me more like Him...He wants us to emulate Him, to be a Holy people. I loved reading your article and am voting it up & beautiful! God bless you, Helen

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      9 years ago

      A great big AMEN to that brother.

      God bless

    • tajman profile image


      9 years ago from Trinidad

      A great hub and filled with truth. It was though painful to read because it concerns me how many churches exhibit the qualities that you mention here, especially the mega-ministries that seem to influence many people. Thanks for sharing LS.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      9 years ago from United States

      Teacher, church has become a social experience for many. While we should enjoy and participate in fellowship as the Bible commands us, our primary purpose is to worship and give thanks to God. Many people also go to church simply to be "fed" passively. They don't live out and give away what they've been given but simply sit in the pew and get fat and sick.

      I have friends who have left church because they were hurt. It saddens me because Satan is enjoying his handiwork. We cannot control what others do, but we can turn to God and pray in the Spirit and watch Him work as we persevere.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      9 years ago

      I agree.

      Too many people today go to church as a social outing instead of working in unity.

      As well, too many mean spirited people drive people away from the church,that is what happened to me. They drive many people away from Christ as well.

      I have life because the Holy Spirit give me life.

      Good article. Keep up the great work.

      God bless you.

    • Rina Pinto profile image

      Rina Pinto 

      9 years ago from Dubai - UAE

      Dear Lambservant,

      And the same be with you my beloved member of the Body of Christ. ..!


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