We are dying and do not know it.
It has been a little over three years since God called me out of the pastorate and into denominational work. During those three years, I have traveled around the state of Indiana worshipping with a different congregation almost every week. While my information is anecdotal, my informed conclusion is that many of our churches are unhealthy. In fact, I believe that if the current direction continues we will begin to experience the death of Indiana Southern Baptist churches in numbers that will stagger the mind. All this while church leaders continue doing what they have been doing – hoping and praying for different results.
So what is a healthy church?
The problem is many church leaders operate on feelings and perceptions about what a healthy church looks like based on their own very limited observation and training. Many love to attribute attendance numbers to health and thereby think that as long as people are coming, their church must be healthy. Some others would claim that as long as biblical preaching is going on the church will be healthy. However, they fail to notice (or care) that less and less people are in the pews receiving God’s Word every year. Still others would say that if the worship service brings people to the throne of God then surely they must be healthy, not seeing that the church has become an isolated island in the community God placed them in. Yet others would say if we are discipling effectively then health will certainly be present. So which is it?
Christian Schwarz, founder of the Natural Church Development movement (NCD), determined that the church could be looked at in a similar way as a doctor examines the vital functions of a human body to define the state of health. NCD describes the vital functions of the church as empowering leadership, gift-based ministry, passionate spirituality, effective structures, inspiring worship service, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism and loving relationships.
Additional church health experts claim other markers of health should be observed, but the real question is, “What are you looking at to determine the overall health of your church?”
If you went to the doctor and were diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, would you be healthy? No. It does not matter that your brain function is great, your heart is pumping wonderfully and your lungs function like a sprinter, you are NOT healthy! In the same way, you must look at church health in totality of the function of the Body.
What can you do?
The definition of ignorance is a lack of knowledge or understanding. Do not let the church you serve die because of ignorance. Your Church Leader Development Team can assist you in assessing your church’s health. We can show you multiple methods of church health assessment and walk with you through the “health checkup” process and beyond.
The truth is it is up to you. The State Convention has no authority to do anything. You need to invite us in. I would love to sit down over a cup of coffee and talk with you about this.