Church health will eventually lead to church growth, but church growth won’t necessarily lead to church health. What does a healthy church actually look like? Here is Chuck Lawless with ten characteristics of healthy churches!
Originally posted by Chuck Lawless
Over the last 15+ years, our Lawless Group team has conducted hundreds of church surveys. Most of the time, the churches with whom we work characterize themselves as “marginally unhealthy” or worse. Occasionally, though, we work with a church that sees themselves as “marginally healthy” or stronger.
Here are some characteristics of those churches:
1. The preaching is strong. It’s clear. It’s biblical. The people leave the service knowing ways they can apply the Word to their life the rest of the week. Church members indicate that they learn a lot from the pastor’s preaching.
2. The worship is God-centered and vibrant. The styles may differ, but the worship is well done. Excellence is an expectation. Connections between the music and the sermon are clear.
3. Their small groups do outreach. Every healthy church with whom we’ve worked has some type of small group whose focus is reaching unchurched people. They choose their best teachers to lead the groups.
4. They’ve dealt with cliques and divisions. It’s not that these churches don’t have internal struggles; it’s that they don’t allow early sparks to grow into big fires. They address conflict early on in the process.
5. They have a clear outward focus. Their members intentionally know non-believers. They provide evangelism training. Members aren’t concerned that there are too many churches in their area; in fact, they welcome new church plants. Their budget reflects dollars spent on others rather than themselves.
6. They have a recognized strategy for producing disciples. The church has a membership class. They have a plan to disciple children, teens, and adults. Many of the members believe they’re ready to invest in someone else – and they know and understand the church’s disciplemaking strategy.
7. Prayer is a big deal. These churches do more than have a perfunctory prayer meeting; they actually pray throughout the week. They know prayer needs, and the church keeps members informed about answered prayers. Praying for pastors and missionaries is central to what they do.
8. They teach members about giving. They don’t assume that believers know about budgeting, giving, tithing, etc. Instead, they intentionally build giving training into their overall strategy. Stewardship is thus a significant part of discipleship. (And, by the way, these churches usually give at a higher rate than others).
9. They have a strong core group, but they also equip and invite others to serve. Long-term members are still critical to the work of the church, but they open the door for new members to serve as well. These churches genuinely work on setting up the next generation to lead the church into the future.
10. They believe the Bible. Our survey asks some basic “agree/disagree” doctrinal questions (e.g., “The Bible is the Word of God”). It’s not a surprise to us that the more strongly the church affirms the Word, the closer the church will be to being healthy.
Any surprises here?