10 Characteristics of a Healthy Church (part 2)

January 26, 2017 by Paul Chappell

church-in-the-snow

In part 1 of this post, we looked at five characteristics of a healthy church:

  1. A Biblical Purpose
  2. A Spiritual Passion
  3. An Uncompromised Position
  4. An Endowment of Power
  5. A Growing Leadership

In part 2, we’ll look at five final characteristics:

6. A Transparent Policy

There’s a lot of talk in our day about transparency. Some of it is just talk in which people try to create an illusion of transparency where there is none. But biblical Christianity is transparent and free of guile.

Think of it: many of Paul’s epistles were written to answer questions. Even as Paul preached the gospel, he was careful not to try to “trick” people into converting to Christianity.

For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:—1 Thessalonians 2:3–5

A healthy church doesn’t take sincere questions as a threat but as an opportunity to help deepen someone’s faith. It is transparent in its theology, polity, and practices.

This is one of the reasons that we have our doctrinal statement on our church website and host a new members class several times a year. We want those who are joining our church to know what we believe and teach and practice.

From over thirty years of ministry, I know that there are pathological antagonists (the Bible word is scorners) who can’t always be helped. But as much as possible, I can answer questions and let God work in hearts.

7. An Insistence on Purity

Our manner of life is a reflection on the doctrine we teach. A healthy church doesn’t just say purity is important in its doctrinal statement, but it actively promotes purity.

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.—1 Peter 1:16

This takes place through preaching on holiness and purity, through emphasizing walking in the Spirit rather than in the flesh (Galatians 5:16), through requiring that those who serve in leadership capacities model purity (2 Timothy 3:10), and through an insistence on purity in membership (Galatians 6:1).

8. A Holy Pliability

A healthy church remains tender to God. Its members receive the teaching and preaching of God’s Word and allow it to transform their lives. Their lives are marked by ongoing, definite changes in response to Scripture.

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.—1 Thessalonians 2:13

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.—James 1:21

A healthy church also remains pliable in transition. Because they see Christ as the owner of the church, rather than themselves, they are flexible to a Sunday school room being changed or a church staff transition.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.—Acts 20:28

9. A Soulwinning Process

A healthy church doesn’t just say the Great Commission is the purpose of the church; they engage in it. They have a plan for actively obeying it.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20

They have scheduled times for outreach with an active plan to consistently and systematically saturate their community with the gospel. They follow up on guests and tenaciously pursue gospel contacts. (I have written other posts—here, here, and here—on these topics. For a comprehensive church outreach plan, see the book Out of Commission, and for a soulwinning training manual, see Take It Personally.)

10. A Christ-Centered Praise

This circles back to the first characteristic we looked at—a biblical purpose. A healthy church is one where members know that we exist for God’s glory, not our own.

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.—Ephesians 1:5–6

Our goal must never be Look at my church, but Look at what God has done in His church. We must deflect and give all praise to God.

Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.—Ephesians 3:21

No church has arrived in all ten (or any one) of these areas. But growth in these areas are indicators of a healthy church:

  1. A Biblical Purpose
  2. A Spiritual Passion
  3. An Uncompromised Position
  4. An Endowment of Power
  5. A Growing Leadership
  6. A Transparent Policy
  7. An Insistence on Purity
  8. A Holy Pliability
  9. A Soulwinning Process
  10. A Christ-Centered Praise

May God help all of us this year to encourage health in His church and be used of Him to reach people with the gospel and see them added to the church.