Culture is shifting rapidly.
Technology is advancing at unprecedented levels.
People are still searching for truth and meaning.
The church is responding and innovating faster than ever before. The message is constant, but our approach always changes.
We all want to reach more people for Jesus. Church growth is a “basic instinct” for church leaders. Church growth is a “basic instinct” for church leaders; however, church growth without church health is short-term thinking.
Candidly, you can grow your church for the short term without being a healthy organization, but this leads to low morale and loss of momentum. Focusing on church health supports and enhances church growth.
Focusing on church health supports and enhances church growth.
7 Indicators of Church Health:
1) Spiritual Intensity
When it comes to being a spiritually healthy church, few things trump the passion with which you chase God.
As a leader, your pursuit of God finds its way into the culture of the church. If you are casual, your congregation will be casual.
If you are passionate in your pursuit of God, you inspire others to passion as well.
This will manifest itself primarily in three areas; prayer, evangelism, and worship.
When the spiritual intensity is robust, those three things find a natural, fresh, and enthusiastic expression in your church.
Prayer takes on a level of anticipation that expects to see God move, evangelism becomes a natural part of people’s lifestyle, and authentic engagement in worship happens that is alive and unprompted.
2) Stories of life change
Life transformation through Christ is why we do what we do.
Stories of changed lives are one of the best ways to assess the health of your church. How often do you tell stories of a transformed life?
For example, stories about salvation, marriages restored, addictions conquered, and sickness healed.
Look for, capture, and tell these stories.
One good idea is to capture the story on film and incorporate it into a Sunday worship service. You can also weave them into your Sunday message, tell them at staff meetings, small groups, and on social media.
These stories are an incredible encouragement to others. It helps them believe it’s possible for them too!
3) High Morale of staff
Whether your staff is large or small, the morale of the team matters, it’s been said that “morale is contagious.” That is very true.
The morale of the staff always finds its way into the congregation. If the staff is healthy, you dramatically increase the likelihood that your congregation will share those healthy characteristics.
Characteristics such as honesty, authenticity, kindness, forgiveness, integrity, commitment, joy, hard work, love, and extending the benefit of the doubt.
These virtues go a long way as you strive for a healthy church environment, but they also do not happen by accident. They require consistent development by leaders who are good coaches.
Morale does not increase with low standards and relaxed goals. In fact, winning teams set the bar high and insist on excellence.
4) Vibrancy of your overall church culture
What are the characteristics of your church that cause people to want to come back? What do people genuinely love about your church? In what ways does your congregation reflect the life and love of Jesus? What is the secret sauce that makes your church special?
These are important questions to be asked regularly, and they reveal the best and most positive traits of your church culture to be developed.
Don’t try to force your church to copy the culture of another church; just be the best version of the church God designed you to be.
Pour primary energy into the development of an uplifting, encouraging, and forward-moving culture so that you can maximize your Kingdom potential in a healthy environment.
It’s often been said that culture eats vision for breakfast, it’s also true that your culture trumps ministry programming, financial stability, and even the strength of your staff.
Sadly, too many churches possess an ingrown, stagnant, negative, or even toxic culture that poisons health and repels people. Especially new guests.
If any of this might be true for your church, invest maximum effort and energy along with prayer to change the culture before attempting to improve your ministries or make progress with your mission.
5) Innovation in ministry
Staying current, relevant, and practical in ministry is an essential part of a healthy church.
Innovation leads the way with the “new and improved” in your ministries. As current culture shifts, ministry must make adjustments to remain relevant.
Innovation is not about change for the sake of change; it’s about what works and what doesn’t work. Be honest about that.
Don’t defend ministries that worked at one time but are no longer effective. Figure out what is needed to reach people far from God and what they need to grow spiritually.
Be willing to let go of pet ministries and special projects that don’t work but are protected by a few well-meaning members who like them.
The gospel remains the same, but our methods change.
6) Maturing of faith
New converts start out immature in their faith. That’s natural.
As church leaders, we have the privilege to help guide and encourage Christ-followers to grow in their faith.
It’s a life-long journey, it’s messy, and none of us ever fully arrive, but it’s our biblical responsibility to do everything we can to help people mature in their relationship with Jesus.
Don’t make a long checklist of things to determine if the people are maturing. Keep it simple.
Keep your list of ministries short and simple too. It’s far better to do a few things well than many ministries poorly.
To help you assess spiritual maturity, look for stories of life change. Look for the fruit of the Spirit. Look for increased prayer life.
Encourage and equip people so they can serve and invest in others! That’s church health!
7) Leadership development
Next to the favor of God, everything rises and falls on leadership; therefore new and increasingly capable leaders are essential to a healthy church.
If you are in a smaller church, don’t become overwhelmed by the need for more leaders.
Ask God to help you find one more leader! Then invest yourself in that person, teaching them what you know about how to lead in ministry. Never underestimate the impact of one more leader. One more true leader can change your church!
If you are in a larger church, you have potential leaders. What is your plan to raise them up to become effective in ministry? An intentional plan for leadership development is essential for a healthy and growing church.
The list in this post does not represent a comprehensive assessment, and of course, every church is unique in the challenges they face, but these seven will get you headed in the right direction for a healthy church.
11 thoughts on “7 Indicators of Church Health”
Great benchmarks to look for, Dan. Thanks for such a concise summary. A healthy church guards itself against falling into “life support mode,” where “the machine is still operating…but the heart itself has long since stopped pumping.”
Thanks Don. And I’m glad you think this is concise. I do too. I have not yet learned the art of a “300” word post. I just don’t have that gift. My strike zone seems to be in the 600-700 word range. 🙂
Not to worry. Fortunately, the Sermon on the Mount didn’t have to be posted on Twitter.
lol, concise would be 140 characters or less. Prayer, Evanglize, Worship, Stories of change, staff high morale (morals too), Would I go back?, Innovative, Growth opportunities, Raising up leaders. Oh well, 151.
Concise as always.
How about adding “Generous” or “Stewardship” to the list? It could be argued that it is elemental in 1) Spiritual Intensity or 6) Maturing of Faith. But stewardship is more than finances, it is whole life management. It is time, talent, and treasures. It is the umbrella under which much of church health is developed and matured.
The adage is true: show me your calendar and your check book and I will show you who you serve.
Generosity / Stewardship is a great add! Yes, it could fit in either of the categories you mentioned, but it is also worthy of it’s own place on the “list” … thanks for your comment!
Great beginning point – the emphasis upon health, not growth.
I would humbly suggest that we would all do well to redefine the church as a living entity – the precious Bride of Christ – so that our connection with Christ would be more relational than organizational.
Agreed Al! The church is a living breathing spiritual entity! I trust we all lead our organizations in a relational manner! Thanks for your comment!
Dan-I would love to see an upcoming post on #7! Talk to us about the system of developing leaders @ 12stone!
Thanks for the insights!
I’ll put that on this list! 🙂 Thanks for your interest!
I believe Biblical literacy should be a category of it’s own or at least included in points 1, 2, 4 & 6. When going thru a dark night of the soul, having scripture to hang on to is crucial. Learning to hear God’s voice is sketchy if you don’t have discernment from his Word. We need more than fellowship & small group to mature in the faith. Louie Giglio recently said when he went thru a season of mental illness what finally gave him a glimpse of hope was remembering a passage of scripture. God’s word doesn’t return void (Isaiah 55:11) you can hang onto it. An encouraging word from a friend is often not enough when the pain is deep. Bible teaching done well is captivating, stimulating, challenging, encouraging & lots of good teachers do it well. The church needs to not only grow wide, but deep. It may grow more slowly but it will have more wisdom, bear more fruit & that’s what we’re talking about, right?