Since the publication of my book The Healthy Small Church: Diagnosis and Treatment for the Big Issues I've had the opportunity to lead several conferences and workshops for numerous denominational groups. I've responded to many emails from pastors with questions about how to help their churches become healthier. Church health is very much on the minds of many Christian leaders today. This is probably why this is the best selling book of all I've written.
A few years ago one judicatory evaluated each of their churches based upon the health of the congregation. They found that the majority of their churches would be classified as unhealthy. Only a few were rated as very healthy with the remainder somewhere in between. Helping their churches become healthier became one of their goals.
Every church has a life cycle that can best be represented by a bell curve. The top of the curve represents a church on a plateau. As the church begins to move down the right side of the curve it slowly becomes unhealthy and goes into a decline. Health can be restored to a church anywhere in its life cycle, but the further it goes down the right side the more difficult it becomes to help it become healthier. It will finally reach a point on that right side when its main goal is survival, and it will then be very averse to doing anything that might help it regain health.
The goal of a church leader should be to address health issues on the left side of the curve when the church is growing. Even then it may begin to develop some symptoms of disease. but the earlier these symptoms are detected the easier they are to correct.
What the book does, and what I do in the seminars based upon the book, is to identify some of those symptoms and share ways to resolve them. In the final chapter of the book I list several diagnostic questions to help church leadership give their church a check-up. I recommend that the pastor and leaders work through those questions each year to give their church an annual check-up. Again, the sooner problems are found the easier they are to correct.
The good news is that any church can become healthier than it is today. A healthy church will be more apt to be a growing church. It will have a more outward focus which means it will be more involved in ministering to its community. A healthy church will accomplish much more for the Kingdom of God than an unhealthy church will. The Kingdom and our world needs every church to be a healthy church.