What is a healthy church? Part 1
There are several aspects of church life that are required to be obedient to the Lord and to foster a healthy congregation. This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few non-negotiables if we want a healthy church:
1. Strong leadership
While common sense and practical thinking dictates that any group needs strong leaders, the Bible makes clear what the Lord wants for His people. The apostles have taught us what kind of men to look for to lead the church. They are to be well respected inside and outside the congregation. They are to be godly men, full of the Holy Spirit, proven, trustworthy, servant-leaders, fully devoted to and involved in the life of the church, and so much more. Without strong leadership, the church will stumble around at best. The Proverbs teach, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Or, as others have creatively noted, “A mist in the leadership is a fog in the membership.”
2. Biblical teaching
We have a deep conviction which is, once again, backed up by practical experience- The Bible is the Word of God, and the people of God need to hear the Word of God to live and mature. How is it backed by experience? The churches and denominations that have abandoned the Scriptures in favor of motivational, self-help speeches, entertainment, and the like are the ones that, over the long-haul, are declining and dying. Jesus is the one who said, “Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” A lot can be said about this point, but let me leave one more comment- Memorizing every single detail that is taught is not as important as yielding to the Word of God over and over again. The Lord forms and shapes our souls this way.
3. Vibrant prayer
Many churches are missing this vital aspect to their life and ministries. While we need to hear God speak to us (from His Word), we also need to speak to Him. The New Testament even instructs us to pray without ceasing. Prayer is many things, but, maybe most simply, it is voicing our faith to the Father. We ought to give thanks to Him, praise Him, voice our trust in Him, bring our problems and worries to Him, and we ought to ask for needs to be supplied, both for ourselves and for others. We need to do this individually, but praying together as a church is a blessed, wonderful, and beautiful activity.
4. Genuine membership
This point brings together several Christian responsibilities. So many Christians in America are neglecting their duties to the local congregation. A Christian who is not loyal to the local church is like a fish out of water; that fish is going to have a hard time surviving! So much of the biblical, Christian life is lived in and through the church; it is experienced as a part of the life of the church. As you know, I could go on and on about this point. If you want to talk about it, let me know. P.S. I love our church, and I love being a member of it!
5. Outward focus
The last point that I will share for now (because there are so many others we should mention) is that we are blessed to be a blessing. We are to be fruitful and multiply, and in this present age we do that by sharing the Good News. We cannot think of only serving our own interests and monopolizing the Gospel. We must get out to share and to serve, to serve and to share. The Great Commission is labeled so for a reason. We are to be selfless, just as our Master was selfless and sacrificial.
So, in conclusion, we ought to get to it! We all want health for ourselves, our families, and our church. Health is something that needs to be nurtured, promoted, and protected. With your own health, there are certain things you need to do to bring about these things. And, we should think in terms of all the different aspects of health. We want strong spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health. Sitting at home eating chips and watching TV all day will not nurture, promote, and protect our health. As a matter of fact, laziness or negligence will only injure our health. All of this is true of the church as well. We cannot sit idly by and expect our congregation to be healthy. We must pursue health. We must all work together to bring it about. We need to promote and protect these five things and more! If we do, the Lord will bless us and work in and through us to be a blessing to one another and others!