By Craig Thompson
Everyone wants to be a part of a healthy church, but not everyone knows how to get there. There are numerous resources available on what a healthy church is and what a healthy church should look like. But, if we were to boil it down to five necessary components, what would they be and what would that puzzle look like?
I believe something like this:
The building of a healthy church often looks less like a flow-chart or a pyramid, and more circular. Each of the necessary components of a healthy, biblical church depend on the other.
Good preaching leads to scriptural fidelity, but at the same time, a church must trust in the totality of scriptural truth for good preaching to be received from the pulpit.
A healthy church will be excited about evangelism, but unless there’s an understanding of the gospel, church members can’t actually share the gospel. Likewise, sharing the gospel without an intentional process of discipleship is a failure, and so on it goes.
Is your church healthy? Does it have a foundation that can lead to growth and faithfulness? Are there healthy practices and commitments within your church that interact with other practices and commitments to lead to organizational health and faithfulness?
These five components are essential for a healthy church:
1. Expositional Preaching
Expositional preaching is preaching in which the main idea of the biblical text is the main idea of the sermon being preached.
2. Intentional Discipleship
Intentional discipleship is the effort to engage each member of the church in a small group for fellowship, discipleship, and accountability.
3. Evangelistic Fervor
Evangelistic fervor is the application of the Great Commission into everyday life so that church members become missionaries.
4. Scriptural Fidelity
Scriptural fidelity is the practice of taking God at His word and seeking to obey all of the Bible with joy and gladness.
5. Biblical Leadership
Biblical leadership is practiced when a church uses scriptural principles instead of worldly practices to identify and appoint leaders.
But what about worship and prayer?
Prayer is an overarching principle and encompasses all aspects of church health. If we were to re-imagine the circle graph above, prayer would be the central hub around which all of the other components turn.
And as it relates to worship, a church that prays, disciples, and preaches will naturally lift voices toward the heavens in worship.
The most important questions to be asked about the music and worship of any church are the same as those mentioned above.
Does our worship cling to the truths of Scripture? Does it promote discipleship? Is it evangelistic? And does it preach the Word faithfully through song?
Healthy churches come in all shapes and sizes. They’re made up of blue-collar and white-collar people. Some churches are growing rapidly; others are healthy in rural communities and don’t experience dynamic numerical growth.
Some healthy churches are very well off with large staffs, while other healthy churches rely on bi-vocational pastors. Some healthy churches are very modern, and others are very traditional.
But, regardless of what else characterizes a healthy church, you can rest assured healthy churches hold closely to the five principles listed above.
Use the checklist below to begin to determine if your church is healthy or unhealthy. Look past the numbers, and look to the heart. Do these five principles characterize your church? If not, where do you need to change?
Keep in mind, those questions are simply the starting point, not a destination. So don’t stop here. Start here, and then get busy working to see your church grow in health and faithfulness.
It’s my prayer that we will see healthy churches reign across our nation and ultimately, our world. We can’t change them all today, but you can make a difference in your church or in the churches where you have influence.
CRAIG THOMPSON (@craig_thompson) is the husband of Angela, father of four, and senior pastor of Malvern Hill Baptist Church in Camden, South Carolina.