Every year several thousands of churches close their doors. Compare that with only 1,000 new churches opening every year.
Churches are dying every day in this country, and it is alarming. Some deaths are unavoidable. Like the man diagnosed with an incurable disease while working out everyday and eating the right foods. But many deaths are preventable. Not that any person is immune from death. There are, however, steps that promote an extended life. Eating right. Exercising. Thinking positive. The list goes on.
The same is true for the church. A healthy church has healthy values and habits. And identifying these might mean the difference between life and death.
What is the difference between a thriving church and a stagnant or dying one?
There is freedom to speak openly and honestly
Ever been to a church where you felt scared to express your true feelings or opinions?
A healthy church is one that allows freedom. Freedom to disagree. Freedom to think openly. Freedom to worship freely. All these without fear of being judged or labeled.
A healthy church is not scared or fearful of differing viewpoints because its leaders understand they do not have all the answers. They are human and are open to rebuke and correction.
There is relevance
A healthy church is a growing church. A healthy church, therefore, values numeric and spiritual growth. And this means the church is willing to adapt and change to remain relevant. Don’t confuse this with compromising the gospel. Healthy churches value the purity of the gospel but never allow pride, arrogance, or fear to prevent them from transforming lives.
A church stuck in its ways and constantly yelling at the culture will never reach people for Jesus. Healthy churches know this. They do what they have to do to adapt. Reaching the lost is far more important than keeping traditions.
There is community
Healthy churches value community. They challenge every person to plug into a smaller community of believers. They don’t see Sunday morning as the pinnacle of church growth. Communities are where transformation occurs. Small groups of men and women that meet consistently and talk openly. They are transparent and authentic. They express problems and pray for one another.
There is social justice
Healthy churches are sacrificial. They give money to the poor and marginalized. They give sacrificially of their time to those less fortunate. Healthy churches see worship and justice as two sides of the same coin.
These churches do not fall into the trap of becoming insider-focused because they know an insider-focused church can’t have justice as a priority.
Unhealthy churches, however, spend a lot of time and resources on themselves. Programs, events, and even worship are very insider-focused. Rarely is injustice seen as an important value. It might be an event on the calendar. But it is not ingrained in the life of the church.
If your church is stagnant or declining, it is never too late to make a lifestyle change. People are looking for a healthy place to grow spiritually and become better humans in their world.