E2: Effective Elders Blog
Editor’s Note: Each Friday we publish a new blog post from our partners in ministry, E2: Effective Elders. We publish it here simultaneous to E2’s posting on their site. The leaders of E2 write an article for our print and online magazine every month as well. Those articles are full of wisdom and practical help for elders. Please check them out!
By David Roadcup
A doctor examining a patient looks immediately for signs of vitality and health. When the signs are present, the doctor knows the patient is doing well. When the signs are absent, it tells the doctor the patient needs attention. A diagnosis is made, medication or treatment is prescribed, and the patient’s health is restored.
The same is true for a congregation. Certain characteristics in the life of a church tell us that the church is healthy and thriving. A lack of these characteristics tell us the church needs attention and treatment. A church’s “vital signs” can be broken down in many ways, but for today, let’s examine three of the most important church health measures:
The Unity of the Congregation
The unity of a church is critical to the health of that church. Disunity within the body brings division, strife, and jeopardizes the church’s ability to fulfill her mission. If there are points of disunity and they are growing and getting more intense, the primary leaders (senior minister and elders) must face the causes of the disunity, pray for guidance, and move into the issues, carefully handling them with wisdom and discernment. Elders must proactively handle and manage whatever is causing the disunity. Jesus himself said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Satan has used disunity for 2,000 years to slow down or destroy the effectiveness of the church. This must be a continual focus of leadership. As leaders, we carefully guard the unity of our church body.
The Evangelism of the Congregation
The winning of the lost to Christ is the first and foremost purpose of the body of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). We must evaluate on a regular basis what we are doing to reach lost people.
In the Christian church, we have many congregations that are very invested in winning first-time believers to Christ. Churches in our brotherhood report services with 50, 60 or more people baptized on one day in a celebration of salvation! How pleased the Lord is with this! An acquaintance of mine immersed more than 700 new believers in one Sunday afternoon. This is the heart of the church.
Friends, we must take a hard look at our evangelism results. Are we really looking for, encountering, and leading to faith in Christ those who are outside the kingdom? We simply need to look at our numbers. How many first-time believers do we baptize on a monthly basis? On an annual basis? This number will tell us about the evangelism “temperature” in our congregation. Remember, leading first-time believers to faith is the beating heart of the body of Christ.
The Discipling/Assimilation of the Congregation
As we evangelize nonbelievers and lead them to Christ, we need to be devoted to the spiritual growth and maturation of these believers. Exposing them to great Bible teaching on a regular basis 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 fellowship and community. All of these aspects are necessary to help our members become healthy and “heart deep” in the life of our congregation.
All three of these areas need to be regularly monitored. As leaders, we look at our numbers and the effectiveness of our ministries. These will 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 is cofounder and outreach director for E2: Effective Elders. He also serves as professor of discipleship and global outreach representative with TCM International Institute. He is also on the board of directors of Christian Arabic Services.
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