How do you evaluate the health of a church?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Jonathan, Sep 30, 2002.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    I am re-reading a trilogy of books by a research group at Southern Seminary in Louisville. This is probably the most extensive set of surveys of Baptist churches in history and there are a number of surprises.

    Our church is also in the midst of a pastoral search and I've been asking various individuals about their perception of the health of our own church.

    If someone asks you about the health of your church, what metrics do you use in your evaluation?
     
  2. Speedpass

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    Alot of churches use Sunday School attendance as the measuring stick, but I don't know how effective that really is.
     
  3. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    Walk in dressed like a homeless drunk smelling of alcohol, and see who wraps their arm over your shoulder and tells you about Jesus.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. Bible Believing Bill

    Bible Believing Bill
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    Amen Brother!

    I attended a revival meeting a couple of months ago in Elgin, IL and heard this story. The night before as the service was ending a man the Pastor had been witnessing to, came into the church drunk and demanded to speak to the church from the pulpit. The Pastor told him NO! /B] and the man then threatend the Pastor. Several of the men of the chruch stood between the man and the Pastor until the man had calmed down. The Pastor then spent the next couple of hours talking with the man.

    That was a situation that could easily have gotten out of control, and I'm sure many people would have simply thrown the man out. This church however, choose to try and help the man. That is what should and must happen if we are to be Christ like in our live.

    Bill
     
  5. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    So far we have two indicators that folks here use to determine the health of a church:

    1. Sunday School attendance.
    2. Welcoming the less than desirables.

    Is this it? (I understand that this thread is only a day old.)

    If I were to ask about your own physical health, you would likely list a number of factors and probably emphasize the need to focus on each. For example, running 3-5 miles per day would be one component of a lifestyle that will contribute to a healthy body. However, if a person who runs each day but also smokes 3 packs of cigarettes and/or eats fried chicken 5-8 times per week and/or gets only 3-5 hours of sleep per day and/or engages in frequent illicit sexual activity, etc... no one would consider this person to have a lifestyle contributing to a healthy body.

    Likewise, there are likely a number of indicators for the evaluation of church health.

    When I was looking for a church in my area, I asked a folks on the pastoral staffs and a number of the laity at each church that we visited about this and am sorry to report that none of the churches seemed to actively consider the various factors that determine church health.

    Now that I am on our church's search committee, I plan to ask each candidate this question. I hope that there are pastors out there who have considered this issue.
     
  6. Daniel David

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    The church was in peak condition when they followed the Acts 2:42-47 passage.

    First is doctrine. A church with bad doctrine is either unhealthy or not really a church.

    Fellowship with others and the love shown toward them is next.

    At this point I am really not surprised. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your being and your neighbor as yourself.

    Doctrine is what we know about God. First priority is always doctrine.

    Next, love each other.

    This is the mark of a healthy church.

    Witnessing to people who walk into church has nothing to do with its health. The church is for believers. After being strengthened in church, believers can go into the world and witness. Should we witness to those who come in? Yes. Many churches do that though and are not healthy.
     
  7. donnA

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    I guess I'm no big expert on something like this, so this just my opinion, for what it's worth.
    But I would think, are people in the church using their spiritual gifts to serve God in the church,serve the body, and to witness to the unsaved. Are people joining the church, if the church is unhealthy it will not attract people, whether they are saved looking for a church or unsaved seeking to hear the gospel. Is the gospel being preached, are God's people being edified(like by the preaching and teaching), even if people's toes are being stepped on. After that I think Sunday school attendace, is it rising.
    I maybe wrong, or there are probably other things could be added that I haven't thought of.
     
  8. Jim1999

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    Health of the local church.

    The good samaritan attitude is always a good indicator of spiritual health in a church. If we are not prepared to put feet to the gospel, then where are we?

    I appreciate that the social gospel can do this, but liberals aren't all that bad, and maybe they have some good traits to mimic.

    The Salvation Army have an unwritten motto: Soup, soap and salvation. Feed a man, clean him up and point him to the path unto eternal life.

    This would be my response to your question

    Cheers in Him,

    Jim
     
  9. weeping prophet

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    The health of a church is hard to measure with a stick but I'f I had to give an answer... Paul spoke of the church as being the "Body of Christ" in this sense you would ask, does the church clearly represent Jesus.How much love, peace, kindness, goodness,humility,and another big one unity, do they have. Other factors include service - because the Lord was a servant,sacrifice- because He gave it all,doctorine - because He always taught the truth and so on and so on. Do they look and act like Jesus? The challenge here is how do you measure these things. Some are easy, like for sacrifice, how looks the offering plate, and even that would still be an inaccurate measurement because some churches have a membership with more money than others. You would have to consider that. How do you estimate the health of a church? You have your work cut out for you.
     
  10. Loren B

    Loren B
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    Compare your church with the 7 churches of Revelation chapters 2 and 3. That will give you a pretty good evaluation of the "health" of your church.
     
  11. All about Grace

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    I'm going with Rick Warren's concept here (which he maintains is not his but straight from the NT -- I tend to agree).

    The health of a church is determined by how well it is fulfilling God's purposes for the church as defined by the Great Commission and Great Command:

    Evangelism
    Discipleship
    Worship
    Fellowship
    Ministry

    Each of these five facets are essential to the health of the church.

    The questions I like to ask are:
    why do we exist?
    how are we doing at fulfilling the answer to question #1?
     
  12. weeping prophet

    weeping prophet
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  13. All about Grace

    All about Grace
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    A purpose-driven philosophy is not all about works. And no JWs are not very good at all these areas of service. There is a natural implication by the connection to the Great Commission/Command that a genuine church is all about loving God supremely (command) and taking the teaching people the true gospel (commission). Your comparison is fundamentally flawed.

    Naturally proper motives is a prerequisite to what I am referring. But the 5 purposes of the church still seem to be the most tangible criteria by which to evaluate the health of a church.

    Bottom line question for church evaluation: are we doing what God has called us to do?

    BTW, if I am loving God supremely, motives are not an issue!
     
  14. Daniel David

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    SBCbyGrace, the primary goal of the Christian is to glorify God. Rick Warren and his book promoting the marketing of the gospel is a shameful example of what not to do.

    I use Rick Warren as an example of where I never want to sink to. He is the classic Arminian who needs to create a comfortable environment for the lost. Dare I say he perverts the gospel? Yes. Rick Warren perverts the gospel. I will never be a part of Warrenism or the like, ever. He does not pastor a healthy church.

    Like manipulative methods that supposedly lead to salvation, I am out.
     
  15. weeping prophet

    weeping prophet
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  16. All about Grace

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    So are you suggesting the purpose of the church is not to evangelize, disciple, worship, fellowship, and minister?

    Have you ever been to Saddleback? I am assuming you have done a thorough investigation of "Warrenism" to be able to say a) Warren perverts the gospel & b) he does not pastor a healthy church. After all, if you have not investigated this issue, you would be making a very judgmental statement.

    From your words, trust me you don't have to worry about sinking to Warren's 16k a week level. [​IMG]

    Stay in the land of Piperism -- it is much easier to excuse yourself from sharing the gospel! :D
     
  17. weeping prophet

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    Sorry had to add one more thing. We cannot evaluate what a church does to know if it is healthy. To truly know if it is healthy we must evaluate why they do what they do. Now I'm just saying these things because I don't believe that we need to evaluate it at all. There is one that does that and it's not us.Our duty is not evaluation, but devotion, so if the whole rest of the church is unhealthy at least we will not be.
     
  18. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    Whoa! Would you care to expound on this one?
     
  19. Bible-belted

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    Hi Johnathan,

    As I am a pastor in the midst of a search for a church, let me tell you what I look for in a healthy church.
    See how well it is fulfilling its "sending capacity". If it can send out people to do ministry 9of all kinds, evangelism mercy, social, whatever) is ti doing it?

    How welldo they communicate? Do they sahre well with one another? Can they disagree withot arguing&gt; Can they lovingly disagree? Do that simply avoid talking?

    The dpeth of the love. Are the relationships superficial or not? Do people visit ebcuase they have to or becuase they want to?

    How do they give financially? Out of desire or obligation?

    Do they understand obedience? Do they see ther vote as their chance to have teir say, or their opportunity to add their AMEN to the revelaed will of God on a question?

    Are they biblically sound? Do they study the word a lot, are they committed to spiritual growth?

    Are they bound to tradition or will they be willing to be entrepreneurial if such will bring greater glory to God?

    How does budgeting get done? It is minstry based or cost based?

    Are committees filled for the sake of illing them? Or are they based on effective minstry?

    Are they afraid to make mistakes?

    These are just a few things. Given time I could prbably add more.

    But these are what come immeditely to mind.
     
  20. All about Grace

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    Just a jab at the tendency of those who tend to criticize someone who is doing ministry differently than themselves. I love John Piper, but he has a tendency to be extremely critical of those who think outside his own Christian hedonistic box. What I find is those who follow his philosophy closely are usually not committed to the type of outreach / evangelism that those involved in more of a church growth mentality exhibit and practice. I am not saying Piper is right or wrong and I know he is very missions minded. I am simply saying that those who follow him tend to take his theology to a different level and, like Piper himself, criticize those who employ different methods.

    E.g., I have heard Piper criticize harshly any idea of marketing or reading CEO literature, etc. But the truth of the matter is even in his church there is an administrator who handles executive issues (similar decisions a CEO would have to make).

    In the end, my words were simply a reactionary anecdote to provoke response from a Warrenism slanderer.
     

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