I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
- Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program?
- Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs?
- Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service.
- Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve?
- Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully.
- Clearly understood vision. Every church needs to know who it is, what its calling is and how it will be directed to meet the challenge of the future. If not, many small, and even larger, churches will simply exist to support an institution.
- Positive outlook. Please do not allow yourself to fall into a “poor me, small us” mentality. Little-mindedness is contagious. See yourself as God sees you- full of potential and planted for a purpose.
I’m sure there are many other “good health indicators” for churches of any size, but I urge you to consider these we have listed, and then add your own ideas to the mix.