7 Traits of a Healthy Church

How do you know if your church is healthy and on the right track in general? (Unsplash)

No one church can be all things to all people.

If we as church leaders tried to make everyone happy, we would quickly fail.

In fact, if you cater to every voice who wants something added or something changed, the church your congregation loves would no longer be the church they love.

Each church has its own culture and personality.

So how do you know if your church is healthy and on the right track in general?

Is there a solid baseline from which to measure?

This article is not about a certain church style, ministry model or theological bias.

I'm writing about characteristics or "traits" that can be used directly or adapted easily for any church.

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As you read through this list, think about where your church is strong and where you might need to improve.

  1. An authentic love of God and for people. Loving God and loving people is the motivation for ministry in a healthy church.

This isn't meant to suggest that any leader or body of believers doesn't love God, but that the pursuit of God can easily get crowded out in the work of God.

It requires an intentional approach to pursue God in order to know and love Him fully. This is a lifelong endeavor.

It's not unlike my love for my wife Patti. I pursued her, courted her, proposed to her and we were married! But over the course of our 38 years together, I still need to pursue her and live in such a way that she knows I love her. Our relationship needs not only to stay fresh, but also to keep growing. That takes intentionality and commitment.

It's the same with our love of God and people. What are your church's simple and clear pathways that are championed to pursue God, such as prayer, fasting, worship and so on?

  1. An unrelenting dedication to reach people for Jesus. The bottom-line mission of the church is to lift up the name of Jesus in such an encouraging and inspiring way that people want to know Him.

Dedication to this mission will manifest itself in three things: new guests attending your church on a regular basis, salvation and baptisms.

It's not about how many, though we all pray for more; the important thing is that it is happening. That is a clear sign of a healthy church.

As I've already indicated, the purpose of ministry can get crowded out by work of ministry. There are dozens of worthwhile endeavors, especially in local compassion and justice issues.

They are good ministries but can't be allowed to completely crowd out the central purpose of the church.

  1. A crystal-clear vision with a strong supporting strategy. Good leaders provide clear vision.

All of us who lead in a local church are under the mandate of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). But God also breathes specific vision in each church for the unique way that church will go about reaching people for Jesus.

Some churches have a bias for global outreach, some focus on the inner city, some churches go multisite, some churches are all about local compassion and some are intentionally multi-ethnic. Some help other churches in leadership development and church strategy. The list is nearly limitless.

That vision sets the direction of your church and allows it to realize forward movement.

The vision makes your church unique and contains that "fire, fuel and flavor" that brings sacrifice, passion and momentum.

In addition, the leadership team commits a simple and clear, strategic plan to writing in order to see the vision become reality.

  1. Spiritual leaders who develop a leadership culture. A vision big enough to need God is big enough to need more leaders.

Leadership isn't a fad; it's part of God's creative design.

We are all wise to develop as many spiritual leaders as we possibly can, and leaders are counted one at a time.

The impact of just one more good leader can change your church.

The best leaders always develop other leaders. Those leaders also encourage, inspire and empower others to serve.

If you want to dig deeper and gain practical tools, my book Amplified Leadership can be very helpful to you on this topic.

Developing a leadership culture requires consistent and diligent effort to systematically invest into those who lead.

Developing is more than equipping (training for specific ministry tasks); it is about pouring into the leaders so they become "bigger, better and stronger" people.

  1. A passionate pursuit of spiritual maturity. Helping people become spiritually mature is ultimately why we do what we do.

Your church is dedicated to help people mature in their faith. This lifelong journey, often called spiritual formation, is a road of ups and downs, twists and turns, and failures and sweet successes. It's never easy but always worthwhile.

A healthy church never waters down the Scriptures or backs off on biblical values. It always speaks the truth in love.

Gossip and politics are minimal and grace abounds.

Perhaps oversimplified, but in essence, spiritual formation is the journey of becoming more and more like Jesus.

We never arrive, but we can always make progress.

  1. A joyful commitment to serve and care for those in need. The Bible makes God's love for those who are broken, hurting and in need easily known, and contains an abundant amount of clear teaching that we are to take action.

Jesus had much to say about the least among us, and about those who are poor and in need. There is no question about traits we need to aspire to, such as compassion and generosity.

We may not be able to help everyone, but we can always help someone.

A healthy church makes an impact in its own hometown community by serving those who can do nothing for your church, and maybe will never attend.

When the church is healthy, it's not an obligation or a project; it's a heartfelt desire that comes from sincere compassion.

  1. A generous spirit that results in financial giving. Scripture is loaded with passages on giving, but that obviously doesn't mean everyone gives, let alone tithes.

As church leaders, we can't let this become discouraging or cause us to think less of those who don't give.

Instead, a good leader in a healthy church prays more and seeks diligently to encourage and inspire the congregation to see and act upon the truth in God's word.

We can pray for a spirit of generosity amongst the congregation, but that spirit starts with us as the leaders.

It is uncommon for a church to be generous if its leaders are not generous. Practice generosity, teach on giving and encourage others to follow God's prompts to give joyfully.

—What are your strong areas?

—What areas need attention?

Choose one or two areas to focus on for improvement.

Make a brief, written plan; agree with your team; set a timeline of measurable goals and jump in. Ask God to help and make it fun.

Dan Reiland is the Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

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