I recently published an article where I outlined several signs of a dying church. Obviously, anyone who loves and cherishes their local body of believers would never wish it to close or die. So, one would be wise to avoid those signs of impending death. In today’s article, I want to outline the opposite. I want to supply for you 10 signs of a healthy church. Now, granted, these are not the only 10 signs but they are vitally important.
10 Signs Of A Healthy Church
Christ Is King And Head Of The Church – It should go without saying that if this one is not recognized not much else matters. Until a local body of believers is submitted to King Jesus, there will never be much health to their body.
Scripture Is The Final Authority – This is another one that should be self-evident. When deciding on how a church should operate, when deciding what to do and what to pursue as a church, Scripture should not only be the first reference but should always be the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. This is the essence of Sola Scriptura. This means that it is not the Pastor that is the final authority, it is not the deacons, it is not the congregation, it is not the person with the most money or who has been there the longest either.
Preferences & Traditions Are Properly Submitted To Scripture – One of the largest cancers in a dying church is when preferences and tradition take the place of Scripture as the final authority. If your mission statement is, “We’ve always done it that way” you are likely in grave danger.
Idols Are Destroyed – Nothing will kill a church faster than breaking the 1st and 2nd commandments. Idols in the place of Christ are treason against God’s Kingdom and must be destroyed. They may be something physical or spiritual but they must be destroyed. Examples of idols may be the order of service, particular furniture on the stage that can’t be moved, someone’s money, a particular way the sacraments MUST be done, the number of deacons a church has, etc.
Change Is Embraced – Now, this does not mean change just for the sake of change. Not all change is good. Obviously, definitional doctrines must never be changed. Usually, the change that is most resisted is tied back to some tradition or idol in the church. The thing that most people forget is that change is a constant part of life. To resist change is actually to resist that which is normal. Growth and maturity require change. The church that resists change does so to its own detriment.
Online Ministry Is Used To Enhance The Local Ministry – I have said for many years that online ministry should be viewed as an enhancement to local ministry and never as a REPLACEMENT to local ministry. Far too many love to bemoan online ministry and never truly embrace it and because of this refusal to embrace it, they keep themselves from reaching future generations.
Power Groups Are Not Allowed And Confronted When Necessary – Power groups always kill a church. They lie to themselves and think that they are “saving” it either from the evil Pastor or those “other people” who don’t know as well as they do. Power groups tend to either have money or have political ties to the ones that do. Power groups are one of the most sinful expressions of a dying church. So, in order to be a healthy church, they must be resisted and confronted if necessary. This is why having a plurality of biblically qualified elders is necessary so that they can confront power groups as a team that is submitted to Scripture and not man.
Healthy Submission To A Plurality Of Biblically Qualified Elders – This one is vitally important. God has very clearly prescribed for His church to be overseen by a plurality of biblically qualified Elders/Pastors and not by one man. He certainly has zero prescription for deacons or the congregation to run the church. This does not mean that a church with a single Pastor is in open and unrepentant sin but it does mean that that church will need to be working towards identifying and ordaining more Elders to run and oversee the body.
Making Disciples Is The Top Priority – While we are instructed to be Christ’s witnesses and engage in evangelism, the Great Commission simply instructs us to make disciples. Sadly, many churches have either forgotten this or simply ignore it in favor of programs or some other preference or tradition. The healthiest churches seek daily to be discipled and make disciples. Everything that a healthy church does has this as its main focus and top priority.
Theological Triage Is Taught And Practiced – To engage in proper theological triage is to display a high level of Christian maturity. Understanding that not all doctrines are worth falling on the sword for and not all doctrines should divide is a level of maturity that is difficult to obtain because it requires allowing for the possibility of one being wrong and it means allowing for healthy disagreement among God’s people.
Andy Cain is a biblically qualified and ordained Elder/Pastor in Christ’s church. He preached his first sermon on January 4, 2009, and has pastored one church, and is currently seeking where God will lead him next. Andy currently resides in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina with his family.