A Healthy Church
In elementary school and high school, math was one of my favorite subjects. One aspect of math that fascinated me was multiplication. Multiplication communicates growth. The same principle is true with church growth. Jesus started with twelve men. On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) that number grew to three thousand. In Acts 5:14 the text says, “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (NASB). The early church grew explosively! Just a few years ago, someone asked me the question, “Do you want to be the minister of a mega church?” I responded by saying, “I would like to be part of a healthy church!”
What is a healthy church? How would we describe a healthy church? One sign of a healthy church is unity; unity that stands together on the truth found in the Word of God. Unity of purpose; bringing people to Jesus and then helping them to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus. Also unity of love; where the members of the church care for one another.
One prominent sign of a healthy church is evangelism where Christians are bringing people to Jesus. One of my frequent prayers for Tates Creek requests the Lord to grow His Church here at Tates Creek numerically. The prayer request for numeric growth is not for numbers sake, but because there are many more lost people who need Jesus Christ. Lost people are all around us; family members; neighbors; co-workers; classmates; grocery store clerks; bank clerks; waiters and waitresses. I pray we are becoming more and more sensitive to the lost people around us and that we are courageous to invite them to church or share our testimony for Jesus.
Another prayer request I pray for frequently is for spiritual growth; that Tates Creek will be spiritually strong and stable and faithful to Jesus until He returns. It would be absolutely awesome for the Tates Creek Church to remain strong in the Lord until the second coming of Jesus Christ! Becoming strong in the Lord is the result of studying the Word. There is no silver bullet to becoming strong in the Lord other than learning and studying the Word of God. In a healthy church the Word of God is preached, and the Word of God is taught in Sunday school and small groups.
Equipping newer Christians to serve is another sign of a healthy church. Equipping Christians begins with mature Christians who willingly teach, train, and trust newer Christians to do the work. In a healthy church, Christians who have been serving for a long time are always looking and identifying newer Christians to serve. In an unhealthy church, Christians who have been serving for a long time are usually reluctant and even unwilling to step aside and train newer Christians to carry on the work. It seems as if their identity and their self-worth is strongly tied to their service at church. If they were to pass that service on to someone else, they would be lost with regard to their identity. At some point, newer Christians at the church become frustrated because they are not being included in the work of the church, and then they leave. Mature Christians realize that the service and work of the church is not about them; it is about developing newer Christians to carry on the work. In a healthy church, mature Christians are always stepping aside because they are training newer Christians to serve.
Another essential element for a healthy church is strong godly leadership. Churches rise and fall with leadership. Families rise and fall with leadership. Marriages rise and fall with leadership. Strong godly leaders love the Lord, and they love His Church! Strong godly leaders are grounded in the Word of God. They have a strong faith and are willing to take bold risks. They know Jesus Christ, the devil, sin, forgiveness, and God’s grace. They also have the attitude that they want to do what is best for the church; not for their own personal agenda. They know commitment and are loyal to each other. They are positive about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the change the Gospel brings to people. They are positive about the church. They are positive about each other and do not criticize other leaders or the church. A negative, critical leader is the devil’s tool.
Another sign of a healthy church is generosity. Christians tithe ten percent of their income and above because they love the Lord and they love His Church. They give because they want to invest in the work of the Kingdom of God. They give because they love people and want to provide for the needs of people.
We could list other signs of a healthy church. Throughout 2017, we will address many of these signs in the sermons. The overall word that describes a healthy church is the word, ‘multiply.’ We will begin 2017 with a sermon series focused on the messages that Jesus sent to the seven churches in Revelation. Jesus identifies the positive points about each church, and then He addresses the things each church needs to change in order to be healthy. May Tates Creek Christian become more and more healthy for Jesus Christ.