What does a Healthy church look like?
1. It is Clear that Jesus is being worshipped! First things FIRST! The church only has a right to exist when God is being glorified. We are Christians because we are Christ like. Wherever you see a church that lifts up Jesus and are active worshippers you will see a healthy church. A church that loves Jesus never gets tired of gathering to worship HIM. There is an energy in the building every time they gather for a worship service. Many times I have heard visiting guest to our church describe their experience saying something along the line of: “I was crying though the entire service, it was as if God was in the room next to me”.
2. The People are Real, open and genuine.
I really love hanging out with people who are transparent, open, honest, genuine…REAL. So does God! He see’s straight to the heart anyway so why pretend that we are anything other than what we are? We all have faults and personality quirks. A healthy church is a loving church and grace is offered and given for each member as often as needed. Why? Because a healthy church can see itself in God’s mirror. We freely offer Grace to one another recognizing our need to receive Grace from our church family. Where people are real there is the opportunity to have real and meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime.
3. PEOPLE OVER PROGRAMS
In a healthy church there are less programs more people. The programs that exist are effective and Mission centric. A program is started and maintained only when it meets the following criteria: (a. It fits and promotes the mission of the church. (b. It is needed. (c. It is producing results that help the church grow. In a healthy church the programs are measured for effectiveness. Connecting people is key for church health. We are called by God to GO to church and to BE the church. If we save programs and lose people we have the cart before the horse. The People are the focus.
4. Effective Biblical Pulpit Preaching.
Effective and Biblical are the operative words. Jesus used a practical preaching style in His teaching that made it easier for the people of His day to understand. He used examples they would understand, He used parables that revealed Kingdom truths and He asked probing questions that made them think. His teaching methods caused the people to take action, helped them grow in their understanding and challenged them to follow HIM. A healthy church is a spiritually growing church. If the hearers do not understand the communicator then the communicator needs to change his/her style. It was said of the great preacher Charles Spurgeon that when he completed his message he would call in the cleaning lady from the church, she had an eighth grade education. He would re-work his message until she fully understood what he was saying.
5. A healthy Church Evaluates and makes improvements and adjustments.
A healthy church asks questions, measures their effectiveness and recalibrates their metrics regularly. Some ministry programs work well in the early years of the churches life but after a few seasons need to be restructured, discontinued or reconnected to the vision. It is hard work to measure effectiveness in the overall church from the first impressions teams to the altar teams a healthy church makes the effort and investment to find out what is really going on in the church. In a small church the pastor may be able to do this by connecting with his leaders and the church body using evaluation forms and forms that track the metrics of the church. In larger churches it may take teams of leaders to really find out what is working and what is not working. It can be difficult to shut down an ineffective program. This may sometimes result in hurt feelings but in the long run it will be in the best interest of the health of the overall church. Churches have limited resources (man power, finance, building space) and those resources should produce measurable results that align with the overall vision. A program that devours resources and bares little or no fruit can be a health killer.
6. Healthy Churches SERVE!
Helping people discover their gifts (*SHAPE) and use them for God’s glory is a central part of the mission of the church (equipping the saints). Healthy churches have a strategy that will identify the individuals gifts and help place them in service. The priority of serving is a theme of the Bible and therefore a theme of the church. People are regularly encouraged to get involved to serve in their church and community. The membership see’s serving not as optional but as a part of being a Christian.
7. Healthy Churches produce strong leaders.
Each generation will need strong capable spiritual leadership. Developing tomorrow’s leaders today is the natural rhythm of the healthy church. A healthy church is the best model for leadership development. The existing leadership, are not threatened by the developing leaders, in fact they are mentoring them. A healthy church is a leader producing church. In a healthy church it is recognized that leaders will be trained and sometimes called out to lead at other locations.
8. A healthy commitment a clear Mission!
Healthy churches have committed members. Leaders are only leading when someone is following. In a healthy church the members are following the Christ example set by faithful leaders. The church has the manpower, finance and energy it needs to sustain the work in the community. Faithful men and women are engaged in the Mission. The Mission is clear the church can recite it in one sentence and the lion share of membership is on board and helping promote the mission God has given. The pastoral leader keeps the focus on Jesus and the Mission He has given His church. It takes the whole team working to make it work. There is nothing more rewarding than obey Jesus and engaging in His mission to reach the world with the good news of the gospel.
In keeping to the 8 quick points of a healthy church I felt I would have to leave out some important ingredients that I have witnessed in healthy churches. This list of 8 is a short list but includes the “must haves” in order to be a healthy church.
A word of encouragement to those who are attending church that may not have all 8 of these in place: Be patient. Be a part of the solution. Volunteer to help promote these 8 essentials for church health. At the Grace Place we have not mastered all 8 but we are at work on all 8. I am seeing growth in all these areas monthly. We have good church health but we are working to be the best we can be for Jesus.
If you are in our area and do not have a home church please come visit us on Saturday Night 6pm or Sunday at 10:30am. www.graceplaceaustin.com