As you look at the teams that make it to the Super Bowl you find that they are well rounded with few weaknesses – this year we see the best offense of the NFL going up against the best defense of the NFL. Teams with glaring weaknesses however, are unable to make it to the playoffs. Churches, likewise cannot be healthy if they have major deficiencies.
Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches by Christian A. Schwarz identifies the quality characteristics that embody healthy, growing churches. His research discovered the following characteristics:
Inspiring worship service
Holistic small groups
Schwarz pictures a barrel with eight staves to symbolize the eight quality characteristics. The barrel can only hold water to the height of the lowest stave. Schwarz points out that a church can only grow as far as their “minimum factor” which is the lowest of the eight quality characteristics in their church. Many churches emphasize their strengths but ignore their weaknesses. A healthy church must continue to develop their strengths while not ignoring their weaknesses.
Rick Warren notes, “Church health is the result of balance. Balance occurs when a church has a strategy and a structure to fulfill the five New Testament purposes for the church: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry. If you don’t have a strategy and a structure that intentionally balances the purposes, the church tends to overemphasize the purpose you as a pastor feel most passionate about” (Pastors.com, February 2, 2016).
Warren describes the five dimensions of a healthy church as follows,
- Churches grow warmer through fellowship.
- Churches grow deeper through discipleship.
- Churches grow stronger through worship.
- Churches grow broader through ministry.
- Churches grow larger through evangelism.
The challenge we face is not to neglect any of these areas – we need a dynamic tension if we aspire to be a healthy church. This requires each part to play a role so the body is working together as one. What is your role in building up the body of Christ? The Apostle Paul described the necessity of each part so a church can have a full-orbed ministry,
from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
Each and every part is necessary to have a healthy body. Don’t miss your vital role in building up the body of Christ!
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
Follow me on twitter: rickhiggins5