Just what is a healthy church? They are, by nature, complex organisations. In some ways, they share similarities with other organisations. But in others, they are very different. Churches can err when they either focus too much on the similarities and lose their distinctiveness or if they prioritize the unique aspects whilst ignoring the strength that comes from the commonalities.
Three Aspects of a Healthy Church
There are fifteen areas, grouped together into three aspects, that all churches, regardless of context, theology or practice, need to be strong in to ensure overall health. These three aspects are:
- Organisational Health
- Spiritual Health
- Leadership Health
These three aspects together give us the overall Church Health, which in effect answers the question ‘how healthy are we as a church?’
Organisational Health is a measure of the church’s organisational focus on a clear apostolic purpose. In effect, it answers the question ‘how geared towards a successful mission are we?’ It can be measured by assessing five elements:
Weak organisational health indicates one or more of five issues:
- An unclear mission
- Vision that is not consistently mission-centric
- Culture at odds with the vision
- Structure that does not serve the vision
- Strategy that will not advance the mission of the organisation
Five Elements of Organisational Health
Mission clarifies the organisations’ reason for existence. It is the response to the question are we clear on what we need to do to see success? A weak mission could mean time, resources and energy will be wasted on endeavours not part of what God has called the church to do.
Vision provides a goal for ministry. It is the response to the question are we clear on what success looks like? A weak vision could mean there is be no target to aim for, or guiding picture of what success looks like.
Culture reveals the organisations’ corporate thinking and is the response to the question are we effectively cultivating the beliefs needed to see success? An unhealthy culture could mean beliefs, preferences, attitudes and behaviours exist that may be counter-productive to the vision.
The organisation structure shows the focus of the organisations’ activity and people. It is the response to the question are we building something that will help us see success? An unhealthy structure could mean an inability to fully maximise the available resources, or that the organisation is process, people or structure-led instead of vision-led.
The strategy of the organisation answers the questions do we have a clear and effective plan for success? It demonstrates the organisations’ priorities and direction. A low score could mean there are no clear steps forward and no momentum to bring about change.
Spiritual Health is the measure of the church’s internal and external ministry strength, using the fivefold ministry expressions given to the church by Jesus that are listed in Ephesians 4. In effect, it answers the question ‘how successfully are we manifesting the heart of Jesus?’.
Weak spiritual health indicates that in one or more of the five expressions, the church isn’t demonstrating the fullness of the ministry of Christ here on Earth.
Five Expressions of Spiritual Health
We can define the apostolic ministry as ‘influencing and transforming the world we are in – locally, regionally or globally – with the values of Heaven’. It responds to the question are we impacting our world? Weak apostolic health could mean the church has become irrelevant and detached from the community it is meant to serve, but also could begin making decisions for the benefit of its people, and not the people it is called to reach, risking increased church politics.
We can define the prophetic ministry as ‘connecting people to the Presence of God so they see, hear and feel Him for themselves’. It responds to the question are we helping people experience God? Weak prophetic health could mean the church has becomes a place of moralism, legalism, intellectualism or activism, without any true spirituality.
We can define the evangelistic ministry as ‘revealing King Jesus to those who don’t know Him, through words, works and wonders’. It responds to the question are we presenting Jesus to those who don’t know Him? Weak evangelistic health could mean the church has become inward-looking and self-serving.
We can define the pastoral ministry as ‘cultivating Kingdom character and community through coaching, counselling, and care’. It responds to the question are we caring for the people of God? Weak pastoral health could mean that people will not mature and grow the way they are intended to.
We can define the teaching ministry as ‘communicating biblical truth through teaching and training to see transformation’. It answers the question are we training people in the truth? Weak teaching health could mean the church will either become a place of experientialism or vulnerable to deceptive doctrine.
Leadership Health is the measure of the church’s leadership efficiency, in how it has developed five key factors that could be growth engines for the church – or potential caps to its development. In effect, it answers the question ‘how prepared are we to steward success?’
Weak leadership health indicates that in one or more of the five factors, the church could have issues in place that will ultimately impact its potential for growth. These may be being felt now or could impact later in the life cycle of the church.
Five Factors In Leadership Health
Discipleship responds to the question ‘how easy is it for people to grow?’ A discipleship pathway facilitates growth through service, leadership, training and opportunities for ministry. Weak discipleship health could mean that there is not a proactive way members can benefit from opportunities for growth, which will impact how they develop spiritually.
Member Clarity responds to the question ‘how clear are our members on the church assignment?’ Member Clarity ensures that the church people are clear on the mission, vision, values and plans of the church. Low member clarity could mean members do not know what they are signing up for, giving into, or serving towards, and could stop. There is also an increased risk of disunity as other, competing, ideas are proposed or embraced.
Engagement addresses the question ‘how passionate are our members about church life?’ Engagement measures the buy-in of members, as shown through their attendance, connection, involvement, and giving. Low engagement could mean the church does not have people excited about the church or its direction, and that there is an apathy or ‘Sunday only’ mentality.
Stewardship addresses the question ‘how efficiently do we manage our time, energy and money?’ Stewardship measures of the efficiency of how well the church manages its resources. Weak stewardship could mean resources are being wasted or things are done in such a way that the work of ministry is hindered instead of helped.
Team addresses the question ‘how effective is our leadership team across all levels?’ Team measures the effectiveness of the leadership process – namely, the Senior Leadership Team and Ministry Leaders. Weak Team health could mean the leading is inconsistent, unclear or ineffective, and the church mission will be less likely to succeed.
Something as complex, central and beautiful as the church requires health across every aspect. Many churches are unbalanced, having prioritised health in some areas whilst neglecting others. Unfortunately, much like the human body, sickness left untreated in one part begins to affect all others. We owe it to the church, and the world, to be the best we can be because we showcase Jesus. How are we presenting him to planet Earth?
To find out today how healthy your church is, take the free Church Health Assessment.