Summary: Realizing that to be a healthy church requires having healthy believers, this message gives 6 characteristics of one.
Characteristics of A Healthy Believer
Here we are just 3 weeks inside of 2008 and already we have laid much spiritual groundwork for where God wants to lead us this year. In our state of the church address we spoke of the change necessary to fulfill God’s ministry and mission for the HBC family. When we finished this message, that night we took the next step and talked about becoming a “Jesus” church. I guess the first Sunday of 2008 was my Sunday for acrostics because (from last year) we renewed our look at a Jesus church using Jesus as the acrostic. Follow me quickly with this;
The J represents our JOY. Nehemiah said this, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” If we are to truly be a Jesus church, the attitude of joy will permeate all we do. The E stands for encouragement. The Bible teaches us to edify or build up one another. This world is dying for some real encouragers. The first S represents sensitive. Our divine call from God is to be sensitive to the needs, hurts, and pains of others. The U teaches us to be unselfish. This call is for us to turn our backs on the common “narcissistic” attitude which says, “It’s all about me” and embrace the spirit of Christ who was so selfless that He sacrificed His life for the Church. The final S speaks of our service. We are taught that we are not to be slothful or lazy. In fact, I was recently reminded of a Charles Stanley sermon which said it is impossible for a true believer to be a slothful or lazy person. The reason is that everything we do should be done like it is being done for the Lord (because it is). It is should done with all our might, the best we can, and it should be done on time.
After these two messages of two weeks ago, last week Bro. Lee Thomas so clearly reminded us of our responsibility, our need, and our privilege of prayer. He gave us the impact of our prayers, the outcome of our prayers, as well as the content of our prayers. If people who are outside of Christ, lost people, people are their way to a place called hell are to be saved, it will depend on the prayers of people like us praying for them.
So, as a church here is where we are; We have been called to Biblically change what is necessary to become a Jesus church who is diligently praying for lost people. Please never forget this truth; “growth is not the objective, it is the outcome.” The objective is HEALTH.
If we are healthy as a church body, growth, both spiritual and numerical will be the natural outcome. This congregation has a full understanding about the importance of church health because just 3 years ago, you were called on to take a look at yourself in a “church health review.” While the results of that survey are incredibly insightful for me, as your leader, I submit that the CHR stopped short of its true goal. Here is what I mean.
What does a “healthy church” really look like? How does it happen?
This past 2 weeks I went on a journey to discover the answer to these questions. Know what I found? There are over 15 different lists of proposed qualities found in a healthy church. However, as I have read, studied, and prayed over these lists, I am convinced that the “experts” have missed an essential Biblical truth about church health. Remember, we are now comparing ourselves to the church & believers of the first century and as such, our answers to important questions come from principles, precepts, and passages in the Bible.
Here is what I believe I discovered. We can perform every evaluation & survey known to man, apply systemic solutions, & improve the quality of our organization, yet never have a healthy church.
Most of you recall that last November I caught Pneumonia and, in true Watts’s fashion, I then backed it up with sinusitis. It was a long 8 weeks for me. I’ll never forget what Dr. Morgan said as we were nearing the end of my meds. He said, “I want the bug dead not just beat down, but dead.” Too often in the church, we treat the symptoms and never get to the root cause itself.
From the scripture a couple of things are immediately apparent; a) Jesus wants all of His followers to be “healthy. Look at John 10:10, with me and follow along (read text and interpret). B) It is obvious, at least to me to be that THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE A HEALTHY CHURCH is to HAVE HEALTHY BELIEVERS. In science there is an axiom which says; “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For the church this would means that the church is greater than the sum of its members. Generally I would agree, however it must be said that for this statement to remain truth the “members” must be fully functional. Thus, the believer must be healthy, all systems on go, all giftedness engage, every part of His or Her being ready for action.