July 6, 2011
Artwork Credit: southsidenazarene.ca
Yesterday we spoke of four common attitudes in the sick church. However, we also said that healthy churches grow, according to the New Testament:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11–16, ESV)
In other words, healthy churches grow because the people who make up those churches are growing. What does this look like, practically?
Healthy churches exhibit certain attitudes
- The people are Humble
Healthy people serve others and the community they live in. In other words, they refuse to be the center of their universe. Paul says that they do the “work of the ministry.” In a healthy, growing church, you will always see a large percentage of the people serving. (In a sick church about 10% of the people serve the remaining 90%.)
- The people are Evangelistic
When someone begins to understand the amazing gift of grace that Jesus has given them, they have to tell their friends about it. Those words of God’s love are received well because the healthy Christ-follower is already serving their neighbors and friend, coworkers and fellow students – the people they are sharing Christ with. (Again, in a sick church, evangelism is either the pastor’s job or for those with the gift of evangelism.)
- The people are Adaptable
Things change. The healthy church moves on because the mission is more important than the method. People’s lives are more important than the traditions and tools of the past. In their adaptation, the baptistery finds use often. People are reached for Christ on a regular basis. This opens new avenues for the demonstration of the love and leadership of Jesus.
- The people are Loving
People care in the healthy church. They are not superficial or just friendly with one another. When someone new comes along, they welcome and genuinely are interested in them. They connect. When a need arises, they simply meet it, or involve their small group to take care of it. They don’t need to get the pastoral staff involved because they ARE the church!
- The people are Transparent
Beyond the superficiality of a quick “Hello” as we pass by, these people grow deep together, doing life together through small groups, in mission and in community outreach. They spend enough time together to see past the veneer and look into the real heart of one another. Foibles and failures show up, are dealt with and loved through in the healthy church.
- The people are Helpful
You will seldom hear of a project or need that wasn’t met in the healthy church. Why? Because healthy people serve and give – generosity is their signature trademark. Whether it is a comment heard on the patio on the weekend or a need shared in small group, God’s people rise to the occasion and care for it quickly because they are family, and that’s what family does.
- The people are Yielded
Agendas don’t find their way to the community of faith in a healthy church unless it is the agenda of Jesus. These people understand that just like Jesus, they are not here to be served, but to serve and give their lives as ransom for others. (See Matthew 20.20-28) This affords them the lifestyle of putting others first on a consistent and powerful basis.
This is the church of health, and it grows! Healthy churches grow because every member is a minister.
Those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours! Please comment below.