A spiritually healthy church is one that has internal and external ministry strength, using the yardsticks of 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?’. There are 15 keys to church health. Five of those keys encapsulate a church’s spiritual health. They are:
Spiritual health is the term to describe how these five keys work together and align. Each key interacts with each other and impacts every level of the church. The defining measure of a spiritually healthy church is ensuring that five of these keys interconnect, build together and flow in the same direction. Because each of the five spiritual health keys influences the other four, deliberate and intentional leadership is required to build well. Unaligned churches are affected in more ways than they realise.
Why is Spiritual Health important?
A spiritually healthy church has the ministry of Jesus flowing through the ministry of the church, and people are impacted and transformed.
What happens if Spiritual Health is lacking?
A spiritually unhealthy church will have one or more of the ministries of Christ lacking in the life of the church. This negatively impacts the other ministries as well as the church as a whole. Depending on how many of the five keys of spiritual health are dysfunctional, weak spiritual health could manifest in one or more of the following ways:
- A weak apostolic and reformational culture in the church leads to the church becoming detached from and irrelevant to the community it should serve. It becomes self-serving, making decisions primarily for the benefit of its own people and not the people it is called to reach. This risks increased church politics and battles for power.
- Alongside a weak prophetic culture, the prophetic gifts risk missing practical application and becoming increasingly Gnostic or super-spiritual.
- Alongside a weak evangelistic culture, even if converts are saved they are not brought into the mission.
- Alongside a weak pastoral culture, the church turns into a needs-centred infirmary.
- Alongside a weak teaching culture, the church forgets to equip people practically and moves into increasing theoretical, academic or obscure teaching.
- A weak prophetic and encounter culture in the church can lead to an over-focus on the prophetic gifts which manifest unhealthily. The church can become experience-driven and shallow, or alternatively, the church can become a place of moralism, legalism, intellectualism or activism, without any deep spirituality:
- Alongside a weak apostolic culture, the church can become driven and develop program or performance-orientated leadership.
- Alongside a weak evangelistic culture, the preaching of the Gospel becomes oratory and teaching, instead of demonstration.
- Alongside a weak pastoral culture, the hurting and broken-hearted are not connected to the heart of the Father, and instead, receive therapeutic techniques rather than spiritual heart surgery.
- Alongside a weak teaching culture, preaching and teaching become intellectual instead of revelatory.
- A weak evangelistic and outreach culture in the church leads to either seeker-sensitive thinking or an inward-looking and self-serving mentality that results in its ministries becoming aimed at serving those already saved:
- Alongside a weak apostolic culture, the salvation of souls is lost in a flurry of ministry activity.
- Alongside a weak prophetic culture, the prophetic ministry increasingly embraces spiritual withdrawal, retreat and mystical monasticism.
- Alongside a weak pastoral culture, people aren’t added to the church and the ones that are around don’t stay for long!
- Alongside a weak teaching culture, the first importance and theological depth of the Gospel are lost.
- A weak pastoral and shepherding culture in the church leads to it becoming inward-looking, needs-focused and taking its eyes off mission. People will not mature and grow the way they are intended to:
- Alongside a weak apostolic culture, people become tools useful for serving ministries and tithing to keep the church funded.
- Alongside a weak prophetic culture, the nuances of what God wants to speak to people personally about are lost.
- Alongside a weak evangelistic culture, discipleship is a non-event.
- Alongside a weak teaching culture, the needs of the people are overlooked from the pulpit.
- A weak teaching and training culture in the church can lead to the church becoming a teaching and preaching centre, pulpit-focused and doctrine-centred. There is strength in theology but weakness in practice, which can foster theological pride and legalism. Alternatively, the church can become a place of experientialism, or vulnerable to deceptive doctrine.
- Alongside a weak apostolic culture, God’s big picture isn’t communicated or grasped.
- Alongside a weak prophetic culture, the prophetic isn’t anchored by biblical weight.
- Alongside a weak evangelistic culture, the gospel is over or under-explained.
- Alongside a weak pastoral culture, there is a lack of understanding and ability to lead people into increased and healthier spiritual identity and security.
Simply put, spiritual health is a significant factor in the success of any spiritually healthy church. A simple assessment based on these five elements will identify current issues and allow them to be addressed decisively.
- Discover how your current level of spiritual health impacts other areas of your church in my FREE Fivefold Health Check.
- Learn how I help churches like yours discover, address and improve their spiritual health by going here.
- Download a FREE chapter of my book ‘Keys to Church Health’ by clicking here.
- Review the other Keys to Church Health by going here.
This post is also part of a series looking at Assessing Church Health. You can find the others here:
- Why Assessing Church Health Is Important
- Why Numbers Matter When Assessing Church Health
- Assessing Five Key Areas of Organisational Health
- Assessing Five Key Areas of Spiritual Health
- Assessing Five Key Areas of Leadership Health
- Assessing Five Key Growth Metrics & Trends
I have developed some FREE church health assessments for leaders. To find out more about them, click here.