It has been a blessing to serve churches for over 35 years in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. I consider myself a lifelong learner who has not arrived yet, but here are my observations on the major factors of healthy growing churches. We will unpack these further in my next five blogs.
1. Healthy Churches preach and share the Gospel in their community. They are driven by the Great Commission and believe in the power of the Gospel to transform lives and communities. They utilize a variety of different evangelistic methods but the key is not only valuing evangelism but doing evangelism. They train and empower their members to share the Gospel in the marketplace. In their DNA is a deep desire to reach un-churched people. They are on mission.
2. Healthy Churches are led by healthy pastors, staff, and lay leaders. Most growing churches are staff led by strong leaders. These leaders are trusted by the congregation, thus they are able to make quick changes to their ministries and programs that reach and disciple people.
3. Healthy Churches have an effective assimilation process. They not only reach people but they move people to places of service. They do this very quickly and intentionally. It is expected of every member to serve and to grow in their faith (discipleship). They know how to harness an army of volunteers who use their spiritual gifts in serving the Lord.
4. Healthy growing Churches emphasize small groups. Whether you call it Sunday School, LIFE groups, small groups, cell groups, home groups, let’s eat pie groups, etc. these churches have discovered that life change happens best as people gather around the Word of God and live life together experiencing genuine community in small groups.
5. Healthy Churches reach more than one or two generations. Many of these churches are reaching four or even five! This means they know how to minister to all ages, in particular families with children and students. They also involve and keep senior adults.
6. Healthy Churches take risks to reach people. They have no problem conducting funerals and burying something (idea, method, ministry) if it dies! Many churches do not try anything new because they are afraid of failure or are totally against change. Accept the fact that some new ideas will flounder and some will be very effective. It is ok to say, “Church, we are going to try this new idea and evaluate it in four months.” You never know until you try.
7. Healthy Churches keep many hooks in the water. They don’t have just one strategy that reaches people but a number of opportunities. They provide many side doors in order for people to be reached (hooked) like… men and women’s ministries, Upward sports, exercise programs, Christian based help groups like Celebrate Recovery, etc.
8. Healthy Churches continue to contextualize their strategy. In other words they know how to reach their particular church field and are not clones of Saddleback, Willow Creek or The Church at Brook Hills. They may adapt some of the best ideas from other churches, but make no mistake they are an original not a copy of some other church model. They are seeking to be all that God wants for them in their specific location.
9. Healthy Churches saturate everything in prayer. They don’t just talk about praying they pray. They believe in the power of prayer to change impossible situations and people. They pray for lost people by name, future leaders for their church, finances and resources to do more for Christ. They know that if anything eternal is going to happen it will be because of God’s power not our savvy methodologies.
10. Healthy Churches believe in 1 Corinthians 3:6. That verse says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” They know that it is the touch of the Holy Spirit upon a congregation that causes growth and vitality. That anointing is sought by growing churches and when it comes, God receives all the credit and glory.
I would love to hear some of your ideas!
Keep the Son in Your Eyes,