By Michael C. Mack
The principles doctors use to diagnose health in our physical bodies are similar to those we can use in our congregations. Certain characteristics in the life of a church tell us that the church is healthy and thriving. A void of these characteristics would tell us the church needs attention and treatment. Let’s examine a couple of church health issues that are always important.
The Unity of the Congregation: The unity of a church is critical to its health. Disunity within the body brings division, strife, and risk the church won’t fulfill its mission. If points of disunity are growing, the primary leaders (senior minister and elders) must face the causes of the disunity, pray for guidance, and lean into the issues, carefully handling them with wisdom and discernment. Elders must proactively deal with what is causing the disunity.
Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Satan has used disunity for 2,000 years to slow down or destroy the effectiveness of the church. As leaders, we must carefully and continuously guard the unity of our church bodies.
The Evangelism of the Congregation: The winning of the lost to Christ is the primary purpose of the body of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). If this is so, we must evaluate on a regular basis what we are doing to reach lost people.
Many churches are invested in winning first-time believers to Christ. Some Restoration Movement churches report 50 or more baptisms on a single day. How this must please the Lord! An acquaintance baptized more than 700 new believers one Sunday afternoon. This is the heart of the church.
We must take a hard look at our evangelism results. Are we looking for, encountering, and leading to faith in Christ those who are outside the kingdom? We need to look at our numbers. How many first-time believers do we baptize on a monthly and annual basis? This number will tell us about the evangelism temperature in our congregation. Leading first-time believers to faith is the heart of the body of Christ.
The Discipling of the Congregation: As we evangelize nonbelievers and lead them to Christ, we need also to be devoted to the spiritual growth and maturation of these believers. Exposing them regularly to great Bible teaching is at the heart of their spiritual health. We teach our people to feed themselves when we teach them about the classic spiritual disciplines and how to incorporate them into their lives. We need to involve them in significant ministry and service. And they must be connected to other believers in community.
All three of these areas need to be monitored on a regular basis. As leaders, we look at the numbers and effectiveness of our ministries. Both tell us how healthy our church is as we continue on the journey to developing, through the Lord’s guidance and will, a healthy and productive church.
—David Roadcup, adapted from the e2: Effective Elders (http://e2elders.org) newsletter