What Does a Healthy Church Look Like? (Part 1)Finally, a complete guide to the vibrant, dynamic, empowered, totally awesome, and really, robust church.
Your doctor says you're healthy, no signs of disease; blood pressure and
weight are within normal limits.
The fitness instructor says you're in terrible shape, resting pulse and body-fat
percentage are way above normal; flexibility is poor, and you just flunked
the treadmill test.
If both can be right, what does it mean to be healthy? And following the
same analogy, what does it mean for a church to be healthy? What signs
indicate a congregation is both free of disease and spiritually fit?
Leadership set out to answer those questions. We talked with a variety
of pastors and leaders and gathered diagnostic tools and checklists, both
descriptive and prescriptive.
We did not find just one answer, but we did find the many responses revealing.
So here, with contradictions and redundancies intact, are various ways to
identify and maintain a healthy church.
Finding the Focal Point
by Tracy Keenan
Church health is a matter of focus: a focus on Christ, not the church. Our
focus determines whether we have a survival mentality or a service mentality.
If the primary emphasis is on maintaining our building, or on getting more
people or money, it's a clue that our focus is on survival.
A willingness to serve is the greatest indicator of a Christ-ward focus.
It's a sign that faith is strong and the people are open to the workings
of the Spirit.
It shows up as a ready, easy smile. It's a willingness to reach out and greet
somebody whom you don't know well or whom you've never seen before. Part
of my responsibility as a leader is to have and serve out of that joy.
I heard someone in a meeting say, "How can we go beyond talking about this
and actually do something?" That willingness to help in a tangible
way can come about only with a servant-focus.
A focus on Christ allows us to support one another, even in our differences.
I was called to this church to develop a contemporary worship service. We
added a third service that was, stylistically, quite different.
Yet I've had a surprisingly large number of people say to me, "This contemporary
worship is not my cup of tea, but if there's any way I can help support this,
let me know."
That was a healthy thing to say. It shows people's respect and appreciation
for our tradition, but also their unwillingness to make it into an idol.
You won't see that apart from a clear focus on Christ.
Tracy Keenan is associate pastor of Southminster Presbyterian
Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It's the Structure. Period.
by Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.
The American church is unhealthy because it has an unbiblical structure.
By denying this and continuing to live under the illusion that the basic
problem of the church is something other than ecclesiology, we have a chronic
If we look into the New Testament, we recognize that, apart from community,
the body of Christ cannot effectively present itself. Yet the need for community
is something that we avoid, and that makes us unhealthy. Jesus lived in a
community of twelve disciples. The 12 became 120, then 1,200 in a day's time,
and the first thing they did was to break the crowd up into communities that
went from house to house.
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