What are the signs of a ‘healthy’ church? We could single out many things, but here are a few which seem to be in every healthy church. Let’s list them and take a brief look why each one is so important. Every Pastor/Elder I’ve talked with, during my 27 years of ministry, either has these areas in mind to see them developed in the local church, or already has them in practice. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments. Look forward to your input.
- Prayer – If our work is not built on prayer, it is just fleshly effort at best. This one seems obvious, but I see a lot of ‘successful’ works which demonstrate humanistic efforts rather than Spirit led wisdom and character. Discerning the will of the Lord through prayer will keep our vision/work faithful to character of Christ.
- Godly Leadership – Only leadership which is spiritually mature and gentle will be able to lead others into spiritual healthiness. Hard-nosed, egotistical and heavy handed leadership will only produce followers of man instead of disciples of Jesus.
- Sound Doctrinal Teaching – Without sound doctrine, maturity is impossible. This is lacking more than many want to admit. Personality cults, sin, and irrelevant ‘pep rally’ fellowships thrive where there is no sound teaching.
- Freedom in Worship – Genuine freedom in worship always exists in ‘living’ fellowships. If a flock is in love with the Chief Shepherd, praising and worshipping Him is present.
- Accountability – The only way to keep wolves and divisive goats from flourishing. The yuppy church hoppers, undercover false teachers and free load loafers will be unable to prosper and do Satan’s work where there is accountability.
- Evangelistic – Life begets life. It’s that simple. This is not just a Tuesday night ‘knock on doors’ to appease our conscience. It is a taught and developed life style.
- Missional – Connection to the unfortunate and needy corners of our geographical area keeps the gospel ‘real’ and separate from the idolatry of American elitism and upper/middle class snobbery.
- Culturally Reflective – Membership should express the ethic demographic pattern of our region. If not, a sectarian or racist element will develop. There should be much prayer and priority placed here.
- Relational – Through small groups, community groups, Sunday School, etc. This prevents needy sheep from falling through the cracks. Many believers fall from the church’s help by experiencing neglect in the area of their need. Though unintentional, those who live in a healthy family unit can be guilty of ignoring a lonely or hurting believer.
- Training Leaders – Necessary to handle growth and new church plants. Also, necessary for developing and having plurality of leadership. This should be a main focus of the established leadership.
- Disciple Makers – That which determines the true quality behind growth. Increasing numbers is not the goal. Making disciples who in turn make disciples is the call and goal.
- Multiplying through Church Plants – This sacrificial and continual ‘over the horizon vision’ keeps stagnation and pew obesity from setting in. Plus, this will remove the threat of someone slipping in through small groups and taking a section out with a church split. When a local fellowship understands the vision of multiplication and the ‘due order’ of accomplishing it (training, covering, sending, planting) we disarm the church splitters from performing their division.
OK, so what would you add or change? And why?