I have had some interesting discussions recently about the state of the church. One person commented, “Hey Pastor, the church seems to be growing.” Another whipped back, “Yeah but it’s nothing like it used to be.” One family expressed their appreciation for the good worship and feeding from God’s word that takes place each Sunday morning and Thursday evening. While another bemoaned that the services were too long for their comfort level. Many see the church rebounding from past struggles as others think we’re in the same old rut. So just how are we doing anyway? Is the church half-empty? Or half full? More importantly, “Are we doing what God has called us as a congregation to do?”
With that challenging question in mind, I began looking for some objective criteria for determining church health that was more than mere opinion. And I came across something very interesting. It was a flyer published by our denomination entitled The Ten Leading Indicators of a HEALTHY CHURCH. It included things like: Centrality of God’s Word, Passionate Spirituality, Fruitful Evangelism, High-Impact Worship among others. But what really got my attention as I read was that in a healthy church there is a common thread that connects all ten. That thread is a deep commitment on the part of the people in the church to build and not tear down, to edify and not dismantle, to help and not harm. In short, it is to approach the ministry of the church with a positive attitude, and to speak blessing to and about the members of our church family. Oh, I’m not talking about a sort of “Pollyanna” mentality that ignores problems and the sometimes painful realities of life and church ministry. I am talking about a basic heart disposition that recognizes and affirms we are on the winning side, that God has already secured the victory, and that He wants to bring about that victory in our lives individually and in our church family corporately.
Each one of the ten leading indicators is a wonderful goal on which we can set our sights. We need to be a healthy church. And I believe that is (or at least ought to be) the goal of every member of this fellowship. So I urge you to find ways to encourage and strengthen your sisters and brothers. Seize opportunities to bless and build up. Shun the temptation to entertain a critical spirit about our church family. I would remind you to recognize the incredibly positive message of God’s overflowing and everlasting love for each one of us! And, when it comes to our relationships with the other members of the family of God, keep in mind this passage in the book of Colossians.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved,
Opportunities abound for useful service in the Master’s kingdom. God has blessed us richly here at Living Hope Church. Let us not be weak and tentative in serving our precious Lord. And let us heed the admonition of Scripture to “…Encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13 NAS20) May we each one know the joy of His fullness as we seek to do what He has called us to do.
In Christ our living hope,