Summary: Four transferable principles from the human body to the Body of Christ.
A 20/20 VISION FOR THE YEAR 2020: SIGNS OF HEALTHY CHURCH
What is a healthy church?
• How can you tell one when you see it?
• How does it look different from other churches?
• How does it act differently from other churches?
We used social media and email this week to ask you a similar question: “How can you tell, in less than 60 seconds, that a church is healthy?” And you gave some wonderful answers. I have combined and compiled some responses that were repetitious.
• By the smiles on people's faces and the warmth and enthusiasm with which you are greeted when you enter the door and also in the sanctuary. Not only friends, but guests.
• Relational warmth, and enthusiasm
• A willingness to grow spiritually
• If there is Unity, Love and Excitement.
• Answered prayers
• You can sense the presence of the Holy Spirit
• Having a venue for people to plug in on their first arrival.
• If its members share the responsibility of outreach and teaching the children.
• There is evidence that they love one another
• The focus of the church is not on itself but on others.
• Proclaiming the gospel in both word and deed.
• The needs of our people are being met by others (laymen), before we can even volunteer.
• The staff is a support for the church.
• By how the members speak to and about each other.
• By how the members welcome/accept visitors that are different from the majority demographic of the congregation (i.e., visitors outside their “comfort zone”)
• Paying bills and obligations on time
• The church is growing in attendance
• New people are coming to salvation in Christ
• People are engaged in the ministry.
• People are friendly and speak to me.
• There are signs of mission involvement and evangelism.
• Actual participation in activities and events other than Sunday service.
• There's an air of expectancy.
• The church has children.
• A variety of age groups.
• In the parking lot and at the front door, servants are showing me Jesus in their very actions.
Good answers. Thank you for participating.
I have asked myself this question (What is a healthy church?) a lot over the years. As a pastor it is important for me to be able to answer it accurately. I think there are many indicators of a healthy church but, this morning, I want to place them into four big categories.
For me, the image of a healthy human gives helpful insight.
Signs of a healthy person include:
1. A Good Immune System -- The capacity to ward off (and heal from) disease and germs
2. Emotional Wellbeing -- A positive outlook toward the future; a realistic sense of anticipation and expectation about what lies ahead
3. Relational Stability – the capacity to function within society; the ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
4. Proper Physiological Development / Maturity – the ability to perform the tasks that a person of a certain age is expected to perform (i.e. reproduction, normative motor skills, etc.)
I think these four big categories have transferable applications from the human body to the body of Christ, the church. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.