Your doctor says you're healthy, no signs of disease; blood pressure and weight are within normal limits.
The fitness instructor says you're in terrible shape, resting pulse and body-fat percentage are way above normal; flexibility is poor, and you just flunked the treadmill test.
If both can be right, what does it mean to be healthy? And following the same analogy, what does it mean for a church to be healthy? What signs indicate a congregation is both free of disease and spiritually fit?
Leadership set out to answer those questions. We talked with a variety of pastors and leaders and gathered diagnostic tools and checklists, both descriptive and prescriptive.
We did not find just one answer, but we did find the many responses revealing. So here, with contradictions and redundancies intact, are various ways to identify and maintain a healthy church.
Finding the Focal Point
Church health is a matter of focus: a focus on Christ, not the church. Our focus determines whether we have a survival mentality or a service mentality.
If the primary emphasis is on maintaining our building, or on getting more people or money, it's a clue that our focus is on survival.
A willingness to serve is the greatest indicator of a Christ-ward focus. It's a sign that faith is strong and the people are open to the workings of the Spirit.
It shows up as a ready, easy smile. It's a willingness to reach out and greet somebody whom you don't know well or whom you've never seen before. Part of my responsibility as a leader is to have and serve out of that joy.
I heard someone in a meeting say, "How can we go beyond talking about this and actually do something?" That willingness to help in a tangible way can come about only with a servant-focus.
A focus ...