If your church is not as effective at reaching the lost as you would like, you’re not alone. If you are frustrated by a lack of heart felt worship or loving relationships, you can stand alongside of many frustrated pastors and church leaders. If your church leadership has been spinning its wheels for a long time coming up with new programs but not getting any new people, this is something you and thousands of other frustrated church members need to hear.
I remember at one point I thought if only the church was more willing to invite their friends and we had more people willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work, we’d have this church growing by leaps and bounds in no time. I concentrated teaching about evangelism and spiritual gifts. What I realized was that the church, like many churches wasn’t even ready to take these steps. The church had issues it needed to resolve within before it could hope to be effective outside of its walls.
The truth is, every church has issues that need to be resolved and will hold back a church from fulfilling what God wants them to do. There is nothing worse than winning a person to Christ and bringing them into a church that has been divided by some petty issue between two families or watching an excited new believer become increasingly perplexed by why people are not as excited about worshipping the God who just saved them from their sins as they are.
The church stands on two pillars, love and prayer. If you take either one away, the church will fall to the ground. This is where we begin rebuilding. Undoubtedly, there are some great people who are loving and are prayerfully devoted to the church. But there are others who are not. Prayer is the power of the church. Without prayer, we cannot hope to accomplish anything.
Love affects our relationships with God and man. If either of these relationships is suffering, the church will suffer.
After these two pillars have been cemented into place, we can begin to build on it.
First is our mission strategy. Where are we here? What is this church called to do? Would difference would it make if we closed the doors and went to the church up the street? And does our current mission reflect what the Bible says our mission should be?
Next is worship. In our services, is God truly glorified? Are the people gathered joyously to thank God for what he has done or do they show up because it is the “Christian” thing to do. Or on the flip side, do people gather because the celebration makes them feel good and have little actual reflection upon God?
Building on this is discipleship. We are to be disciples and we are told to make disciples. Are people growing in God’s word and are they teaching it to Christians who are less mature than they?
Finally is equipping. Church members will start to understand how God has gifted them and the church will become intentional in equipping their members to best use their gifts.
After this is finally evangelism. As a Christian matures, outreach should come naturally because they want to tell others what God has done for them. As new members are brought in, they are welcomed into a structure that has people in place to teach them and care for them.
This isn’t the end of the church’s job however. Next is leadership strategy. Whatever your leadership structure is, you won’t have the same leaders forever. Leaders will get voted out, move, or pass away. Leadership strategy involves training up the next generation of leaders to take the place of the current ones. A good leader isn’t one who is irreplaceable; it is one who doesn’t need to be replaced when the time comes because other people are already in place.
The final two steps are constantly at work. The first is effective structures. From the beginning, you will have to evaluate your physical building and ministries you provide. Is it handicap accessible? Are the bathrooms easy to find for a visitor? Is the nursery in good shape and a place you would feel safe leaving your baby? As you grow, you’ll have to re-evaluate. Should we start a singles ministry? Is our sanctuary large enough, or should we begin a second worship service?
Finally is the most important step in the entire process. Is what we are doing centered on the Bible? Evaluate everything you do now and ask why you do it. As you make changes to your ministry, filter it by asking, is this centered on God’s Word and how is God glorified by this?
You will have people in your church at all stages. Some are ready for outreach and others struggle with loving others. Certainly, don’t ignore outreach by people who are ready and eager to do it, but work at bringing others along. Those who are more mature should be working to disciple others in the church.
These are 10 principles in building a healthy church. You will study them more in depth toward the end of the healthy church Bible study. To start, you will look at what the Bible says a healthy church is. At the end you will look at not only principles for your church to work by but also your leadership and your ministries.