by David Roadcup
A doctor examining a patient looks immediately for signs of vitality and health. When the signs are present, the doctor knows the patient is doing well. When the signs are not there, this is telling the doctor that the patient needs attention. A diagnosis is made, medication or treatment is prescribed, and the patient finds restoration of health.
The same is true for a congregation. Certain characteristics in the life of a church tell us that the church is healthy and thriving. A lack of these characteristics would tell us that the church needs attention and treatment. A church’s “vital signs” can be broken down in many ways, but for today, let’s examine three of the most important church health measures:
The Unity of the Congregation
The unity of a church is critical to the health of that church. Disunity within the body brings division, strife, and jeopardizes the church’s ability to fulfill her mission. If there are points of disunity and they are growing and getting more intense, the primary leaders (senior minister and elders) must face the causes of the disunity, pray for guidance and move into the issues, carefully handling them with wisdom and discernment. Elders must proactively handle and manage whatever is causing the disunity. Jesus Himself said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Satan has used disunity for two thousand years to slow down or destroy the effectiveness of the church. This must be a continual focus of leadership. As leaders, we carefully guard the unity of our church body.
The Evangelism of the Congregation
The winning of the lost to Christ is the first and foremost purpose of the body of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). We must evaluate on a regular basis what we are doing to reach lost people.
In the Christian Church, we have many congregations that are very invested in winning first time believers to Christ. Churches in our brotherhood report baptism services of 50, 60 or more people baptized on one day in a celebration of salvation! How pleased the Lord is with this! An acquaintance of mine immersed over 700 new believers in one Sunday afternoon. This is the heart of the church.
We must take a hard look at our evangelism results, friends. Are we really looking for, encountering and leading to faith in Christ those who are outside the kingdom? We simply need to look at our numbers. How many first-time believers do we baptize on a monthly basis? On an annual basis? This number will tell us about the evangelism “temperature” in our congregation. Remember, leading first time believers to faith is the beating heart of the body of Christ.
The Discipling/Assimilation of the Congregation
As we evangelize non-believers and lead them to Christ, we need to also be devoted to the spiritual growth and maturation of these believers. Exposing them to great Bible teaching on a regular basis is at the heart of their spiritual health. We teach our people to feed themselves when we teach them about the classic spiritual disciplines and how to incorporate them into their lives. We need to involve them in significant ministry and service. And they must be connected to other believers in fellowship and community. Each of these aspects are necessary to help our members become healthy and “heart deep” in the life of our congregation.
Each of these three areas need to be regularly monitored. As leaders, we look at our numbers and the effectiveness of our ministries. These will tell us how healthy our church is as we continue on the journey to developing, through the Lord’s guidance and will, a healthy and productive church.