Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Marks of a healty Church

The question, "what is a spiritually healthy church" has been knocking on my door over the last couple of years. Today, when I woke-up it was knocking  particularly loud, so off the top of my head I'll list some attributions of what I think make a church spiritually healthy.

I would note that these observations are coming from a parishioner's perspective and not so much from a church leader's perspective. I do feel that depending on what side of the pulpit you are on will certainly change the view.

My observations also come through my own personal experiences as I've journeyed through different churches. My conversion did not take place in a church or through any para church ministry. I was a young teen in the 1970's who's life came to the cross-roads when my cousin shared the gospel with me.

After my conversion, my girl friend (now my wife), found a bible study happening in the town we were in. Soon after meeting in various homes we found ourselves in a church where the main emphasis was on casting out demons and the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit.

From there we found another Church that in many respects was similar. This particular church would have the pastor's wife speak to the congregation and tell us about her forty-day fast for Jeee-sus. In this church we witnessed people getting slain in the spirit, speaking in unknown languages, and a host of pseudo healings.

From there we journeyed on to find ourselves in a Fundamental Independent Separated Bible-Believing Baptist Church. Here we found that to be a good solider of Jesus you followed all the rules: hair was cut to a certain length, Godly women wore dresses, you didn't drink alcohol, you tithed, you came to church every time the church doors were opened, oh, and you didn't go the the theater to see ET, I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Next, we found ourselves back in the house church movement. Without any real structure or defined leadership there arose self promoters, those who would make claims that "this is my church;"  and again the ME monster would raise his ugly head.

From that house Church we found an established denominational church-- The Evangelical Free Church, where we spent twenty years.

This is my background, and from that perspective I'd like to share a few characteristics that any church should exhibit in order to be called a spiritual healthy church:

1.Leadership: All of the leader's operate from the biblical paradigm of servant leadership. All of the leaders must be spiritually and emotionally healthy. True humility must be the defining attribute of all those who are to lead.

2. God's Word: The word of God is viewed as the authoritative, inspired, inerrant, and the revelation of God to His people.

3. A church that focuses not on program development but people development:  Any church that makes the church the focus and not the building up of the saints is not a healthy church. Too many churches focus on quantity and not quality. Too many churches are so busy with building their programs that the people of God are used as a means to the church's end. 

In this type of church you begin with programs and the church looks for people to make them happen. In a healthy church the leadership looks to minister to people and may create a program to help people grow.

In a program driven church the emphasis for service will always be "what are you doing in the church." This creates a false view of how the Christian life should be lived.

The healthy Church will emphasize that all of our lives are to be lived in service to Christ. The healthy Church will not equate spirituality with the degree of involvement you have in their programs.

4. A healthy Church will be a church that makes God the center of all spiritual activity. The spiritually healthy church will do every thing with the intent to bring glory to God. The leadership in a healthy church will go to great pains to measure every thing that is proposed or done against the measuring stick "does this glorify God?"

Conclusion: I know there is no perfect Church. I know that many other things can be added to this list. This came off the top of my head and for me they can't be compromised. Let me emphasize that any healthy church must have healthy leaders---health starts from the head down.

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