Tuesday, January 29, 2013

7 attributes of healthy churches

In the excellent book The Pastor's Guide to Effective Ministry Ron Blake shares seven attributes of healthy churches which I include in my book The Healthy Community: Moving Your Church Beyond Tunnel Vision.  The seven are

  1. Healthy churches help everyone discover a sense of purpose.
  2. Healthy churches create a place of belonging for people.
  3. Healthy churches intentionally create trust among its members.
  4. Healthy churches provide many opportunities for people to form relationships.
  5. Healthy churches get as many people as possible involved in ministry.
  6. Healthy churches keep the mission and vision before the people.
  7. Healthy churches regularly train and equip their people for ministry.
It is rather easy to measure the health of a church simply by examining how well it is doing in each of these areas.  Many churches would score well in one or two of these areas but score much lower in others.  The healthiest churches will score well in each of them and will be looking at how they can improve in each of these areas as well.  Healthy churches are never satisfied with their status quo but continually look for ways they can improve.

Although it is not listed among the seven it should be noted that healthy churches will always be led by healthy leaders.  I'm not sure why Blake did not include that in his list, but I did add it in my book because it is very unlikely that a church will be doing any of the seven if it does not have healthy leadership who is intentional about leading the church to health.  I would go so far as to say that a church will never be any healthier than its leadership, and, even more, I would make the claim that if a church is not healthy and the pastor has been there for an extended period of time he or she is probably not a healthy leader.

Maybe it's because I've written three books that explore healthy churches and pastors, but I am more convinced than ever that it is essential that churches focus on their overall health.  An unhealthy body simply cannot grow as it should, and too many of our churches are not healthy.  Over the years they have allowed various diseases to creep into their lives leading them to become unhealthy and ineffective in their ministries.  If diseases are allowed to continue unchecked in the body long enough eventually the body will become terminal.  Perhaps the body can be put on life support and kept artificially alive for a period of time, but for all practical purposes it's life has ended.  Does this sound like any churches you know?

Healthy leaders will be very intentional about promoting each of the seven attributes in their churches.  They will identify the areas in which they are strongest and find ways to make then even more effective.  They will also identify the areas in which the church needs further training to build up those areas of church life.  I think the two key words in this paragraph are healthy and intentional.  It will take healthy leaders to be intentional about doing these things.  My question to the reader is are you that kind of leader?

For more detail about these seven areas I would refer you to the two books listed above.

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