The question was posed to me this week, what constitutes a healthy church? After a little deliberation, I came to this conclusion, A healthy church is a church that is growing in both the quantity and quality of its members. As simple as this sounds, many churches struggle to get to this healthy place, however there is a blueprint of aspects that have been shown to significantly increase the efficiency at which a Church can reach this healthy place.
The first aspect of a healthy church is a leadership that understands their primary role is not to do ministry but rather to equip the members of the Church for ministry (Earley, 2017). Within many churches there exists a ratio that finds 80% of the work of ministry being done by 20% of the Church (Viola & Barna, 2012). This ratio is largely attributed to poor understanding of roles on behalf of Church leadership and is a sign of unhealthy patterns.
The second aspect of a healthy church builds upon the first in that a healthy church has an involved membership. Members of healthy churches operate in the gifts and callings God has given them, as a result the majority of ministry being performed is performed by the members of the church not the leadership (Dempsey & Earley, 2015).
The third aspect of a healthy church is outreach. A healthy church understands that the work of Christ cannot stay within the Church building but rather must also go out and reach the hurting. Matthew 5:16 commands believers to not hide the light of Christ from the world but rather let it shine before all men. The work of Christ needs to not only be active within the Church confines but also in the culture and communities in which the Church dwells.
A healthy Church is one that understands this and adheres to the Great Commission (Earley, 2017). It is in accordance with the Great Commission that a healthy Church goes out into its community and reaches out to the lost, sharing Jesus Christ with them, by doing so they begin to make disciples. A healthy Church brings those individuals into the family of Christ by baptism into the fellowship and continues their growth and maturation process through teaching, mentoring and discipling.
The health of a Church like any other organization begins and ends with its leadership. It is the Pastoral staff’s responsibility to ensure that congregation develops healthy patterns. To be healthy the pastoral staff must first train up leaders, equipping them with the necessary tools to function within their called ministry and let them loose to perform that ministry. This is hard for many churches to accomplish as it requires a level of trust that many pastors do not possess when it comes to their congregations. Having trust for those you lead and equipping them are major components to Church health as it is the congregation, not the pastors that have the primary ministry and outreach roles (Earley, 2017).
If a Church is going to be healthy it starts with the Pastor knowing his role and trusting those around him in the roles they have been called to and equipped for in the pursuance of the purposes God has for them. As the Pastor is the visible head of the Church, he needs to be a model to his congregation of Christlikeness and health. Through the recognition of his role and its limits he sets the precedent for the rest of the Church to accept their roles and responsibilities in the healthy operations of the Church.
Dempsey, R., & Earley, D. (2015). Leading Healty, Growing, Multiplying Small Groups. Lynchburg: Liberty Press.
Earley, D. (2017, November 22). PACO 660 Module #4 Powerpoint God’s Blueprint for Healthy Church Growth. Lynchburg, Va, USA.
Viola, F., & Barna, G. (2012). Pagan Christianity. Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale.