What makes a Church Healthy or Unhealthy?

This comes from a big problem we have in most churches today, that is the tendency of leaders not effectually growing in the Lord and thus do not practice their faith and this dispenses down to the congregation. And the outcome is a church that has missed its point and reason for being; as its people, who Christ has brought in, go without being taught or discipled because the pastors and leaders are not being taught or discipled. Being mature means you know not just Who Christ is, but His impact has gone deep and has occupied all aspects of our life and faith. Life is all about Him and not about selfish ideas or perceptions. We have gone to His throne and His priestly duty has been received, our Milk, and then the meat is feasted upon, His wondrous precepts and Truth. So our faith is real, personal, fully transformed and becoming fully engaged followers of Christ seen by a life well lived. If we want to be an impacting Christian pastor or lay leader in a church that impacts its community and world, we have to be eating the meat of God’s precepts with passion and conviction, in love and in truth and then sharing it with others.

Research Conducted between 1998 and 2007:

· Churches that are healthy have leadership that surrenders to the Lordship of Christ and builds their church on His foundation.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leadership that are prideful and build their church on the foundation of their legacy or personality.

· Churches that are healthy tend to be focused on prayer and seeking what God has for them; they are interested in what God intends and the opportunities that are at hand.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to be focused on prayer, and they seek what they want, ignoring what God and His Word has for them.

· Churches that are healthy are in line with and in touch with Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD. The leaders and the people have an effectual sense of God’s presence and seek Him out of gratitude for who he is and what He has done. Their growing faith and their joyful attitude in life evidences this.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to be interested or centered upon the Lordship and centrality of Christ. They are places of personality, leadership in control for personal agendas, and/or seeking trends contrary to the agenda or call of God’s Word.

· Churches that are healthy have pastor(s) and leaders who are humble, exhibit patience and the Fruit of the Spirit, and have a strong sense of indebtedness to God and others.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have pastor(s) and leaders who are not humble, but rather seek formulas, trends, and do not feel indebtedness to God and/or others.

· Churches that are healthy have a mindset that spiritual formation and group and individual maturity are not achieved from programs or facilities, but rather from the knowledge and passion of our Lord working.

· Unhealthy churches tend to place their focus on programs over people.

· Churches that are healthy place God’s priorities first.

· Unhealthy churches only desire to produce what the leaders want.

· Churches that are healthy see worship as a lifestyle and not just an experience.

· Unhealthy churches tend to see worship just as an experience and not an attitude or lifestyle.

· Churches that are healthy have leaders who do personal devotions, and for whom the study of God’s Word is the foundation of their faith and practice.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who do not or do very little personal devotions, and negate the study of God’s Word. Who they are in society, education, or pride are the foundations of management of their church.

· Churches that are healthy perceive Christ to be an active presence in their church and thus have pleasant conversations and activities in their halls and courtyard.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to seek Christ first in their church and thus have conversations filled with conflict and activities that are unhealthy or purposeless.

· Churches that are healthy have a strong sense of biblical value for faith in the practice of church and personal life. The Bible is real and relevant in the life of the leaders, so it is taught as well as caught from one another.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have a weak sense of biblical worth and see faith as just personal, not practiced in the life of the church. The Bible is seen as unrelated to church leadership and thus they seek substitutes from non-biblical or psychological/cultural sources.

· Churches that are healthy are pursuing the purpose for which God has created and called them to.

· Unhealthy churches tend to pursue the purpose the leaders want, personal agendas that are usually contrary to God’s will and precepts or are unrealistic or ineffective.

· Churches that are healthy allow its people to know and exercise their spiritual gifts, and the strongest churches mentor their people further in them.

· Unhealthy churches tend to ignore its people’s gifting and talents.

· Churches that are healthy have a sense of allowing God to work in and through their people to build a healthy, loving community.

· Unhealthy churches tend to coerce and manipulate or micromanage their people, which does not build a healthy community.

· Churches that are healthy are making disciples for the transformation of the whole person, both faith and personal life.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to be interested in making disciples and thus its people experience little or no renovation of faith in their church or personal life.

· Churches that are healthy have pastors and leaders who are equipping others to serve, doing so with care and kindness; they see their people as participants in the ministry of the church.

· Unhealthy churches tend to see their people as consumers, not participants.

· Churches that are healthy are centered around and led by biblical principles and solid doctrine.

· Unhealthy churches tend to be led from an attitude of church sociological trends and pragmatism that ignores classic Christian theology.

· Churches that are healthy are filled with people who live in the Fruit of the Spirit.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have its people self-focused and who only want to be heard; they either do not want to listen to others or have a conceited attitude or see those who are mature as threats.

· Churches that are healthy have leaders who are trained and are involved in the life of the church.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who are not involved in the people’s lives or the life of the church—unless it is centered on them.

· Churches that are healthy have leadership who are spiritually passionate and have a love for the Lord that is obviously sincere. They are also motivated to empower others.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leadership who are not interested in the people’s spiritual growth, and rationalize they are better for their lack of Bible and faith.

· Churches that are healthy have leaders who do the teaching with care and in truth; they are concerned for the people’s personal and spiritual growth and are not there for pride’s sake.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who do the teaching carelessly and with disregard for truth; they are not concerned for their people’s personal and spiritual growth, but are there for pride—reasons of the self.

· Churches that are healthy have leaders who are supported by their pastor(s) in whatever committee or ministry they are a part of…such as worship, teaching, and/or making disciples.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who feel they are not supported by their pastor(s).

· Churches that are healthy are focused on the spiritual journey of their people, and do not see it as just an emotional experience or an academic quest. They have balance between real effectual faith and Bible truth.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to be interested or focused on the spiritual journey of their people, or else they see it as just an emotional experience or an academic quest. The balance between real effectual faith and Bible truth is null in these churches.

· Churches that are healthy see all their ministries and committees as meaningful and important, and the people in them feel supported, encouraged, and equipped.

· Unhealthy churches tend to see a pecking order in ministries where one or two get all the attention and the rest are ignored. The people in these ministries do not feel important, supported, encouraged, or equipped.

· Churches that are healthy see their people on a journey and desire to encourage and equip them in it.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to have a place in mindset or function for the spiritual learning and growth of its people.

· Churches that are healthy have leaders who have energy and are emotionally mature.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who are apathetic and are emotionally unstable or conceited.

· Churches that are healthy have leaders who are inclusive of others and who encourage and appreciate their co-leaders, pastor(s), and congregation.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who are exclusive with a “we-they” mindset and do not encourage; rather, they are biased to only their wants and needs.

· Churches that are healthy have a collective mindset of being a place of faithful character and the practice of joyful fellowship.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have a collective mindset of being a place where there is a lack of intention of warmth, of learning, of being faithful, and the practice of joyful fellowship is absent.

· Churches that are healthy have and emphasize small groups and/or Bible studies, equip and train their leaders, and offer quality curriculum fitting the spiritual developmental level of the participants.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to emphasize small groups or Bible studies, and if they do have them, they do not equip and train their leaders, nor do they offer quality curriculum for the spiritual developmental of the participants.

· Churches that are healthy have worship services where God’s presence is sought and felt, and is alive with energy. The congregation feels inspired and fed. Also, there is a strong sense of God as the audience, the people as the performers, and the pastor or leader the facilitators to worship. (Style and tradition were not significant factors; passion and prayer were.)

· Unhealthy churches tend to have a worship service that is perfunctory, where God’s presence is not felt, and is dull and dry. There is a strong sense that the leader is performing to the audience of the church members. (Style and tradition were not significant factors; being performance-driven with a lack of authentic spirituality was.)

· Churches that are healthy have leadership who are grateful to God and others; they are modeling the precepts of Christ as servants first, and are leading others to where they have been.

· Unhealthy churches tend to have leaders who are petty, and who lead others who are hypocritical, immature, complaining, and ungrateful for Christ and others.

· Churches that are healthy have clarity of vision and mission and/or purpose, and who are also able to live it and communicate it to their church people. The people in the pew know what their church is about and feel a part of and connected in it.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to have clarity of vision or purpose and if they do, do not follow it (or only a few do) or communicate it to their church people. The people in the pew have no idea what their church’s function is about and do not feel a part of or connected in it.

· Churches that are healthy are making disciples and serving their community and the world. Those who go into missions or ministry come from being mentored and discipled.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to make disciples and thus have few to none serving or preparing to serve their community and the world.

· Churches that are healthy have a system, and are on the watch for problems, both personal and interpersonal; they deal with and resolve conflict fast and with tact, love, and care.

· Unhealthy churches tend to ignore conflict or just placate the big givers and power brokers.

· Churches that are healthy are forgiving and see people in need of love and care; they have a sense of the other person as God’s child too.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to recognize other people as God’s children, and are unforgiving. (Most people leave a church because of conflict.)

· Churches that are healthy are stewardship focused, teaching and encouraging its people to give out of their time, talents, and treasures. They are not forced or manipulated; rather, they feely give out of gratitude to the Lord for the mission of the church.

· Unhealthy churches tend to skew what stewardship is about and either ignore it or manipulate their people to give. (Real giving is always out of a grateful and generous heart—not out of obligation or manipulation.)

· Churches that are healthy are “outward focused” and are outreach and mission minded. They seek ways to reach out to people, and train their people to do so both locally and globally. They see the world as the mission.

· Unhealthy churches tend to be “inward focused” and do not have an outreach and/or missions program, or else just a few know about it and are involved in it. They see their church as only reaching out to “our own kind” and rarely or just superficially go beyond their own church membership. They see themselves as the mission.

· Churches that are healthy care about their people and programs and seek how they can improve what they are there to learn and do, and do not compare themselves to other churches.

· Unhealthy churches tend not to care about their people, nor do they seek how they can improve; there is a disregard for what they are there for and they love to compare themselves to other churches.

· Churches that are healthy are concerned with strategic planning and being good stewards with their resources. They realize real marketing is not about programs but about being a good model and witness.

· Unhealthy churches tend to do little strategic planning and/or have overconfidence concerning marketing techniques and trends; they also do not do a good job with their resources.

· Churches that are healthy measure success by how it’s impacting a life change in others’ personal and faith lives; it is quality over quantity.

· Unhealthy churches tend to measure success solely by numbers, and seek quantity over quality.

· Churches that are healthy have facilities that are well cared for, clean, and usable. They see their church as a gathering point and tool for use by God and His people. The churches that rent treat their rented building with respect, and keep it maintained and clean, seeing it as a form of evangelism.

· Unhealthy churches tend to also have facilities that are well cared for and clean. But they tend not to be usable; they see their church as a ministry to itself and not to be messed up; thus, it is not used. Churches where the facilities are dilapidated, dirty, and unsanitary tend to also be that way in worship and ministry. The churches that rent do not treat their rented building with respect; they have an “us versus them” mentality.

These healthy churches also have 20-40 percent of their church members in a Bible study or in small groups. In these small groups, the main curriculum has the leader teaching the Bible as the prime program, such as a Bible study or discussion on biblical precepts, and the Word is delved into. Churches that are unhealthy have little to no active participation in small groups, and/or the groups are using weak curriculum that does not teach or inform about biblical principles, and the Bible is used very little.

Healthy churches have a deep love and gratitude to Christ and desire to equip and empower the people He brings them. They seek to serve in humbleness and effectual faith. They value people and do not depend on their programs, rather on Christ; they allow Him to produce what He wants, when He wants. They grow from the inside of their faithful journey before it is exercised outward. Inward faith is formed before outward faith is expressed. The average healthy church is where people feel good about God and others; they display personal, spiritual, and relational maturity and have hope and life in Christ, all because they are growing in the Word and Spirit. Gossip is absent and conflict is dealt with; spiritual growth is glorifying our Lord, and the Fruit of the Spirit is at hand. The pastors and leaders model to the people a faith that endures as they look to Christ.

© 2008, Research from 1998- 2007, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

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About Biblical Guy

Dr. Richard Joseph Krejcir lives in Southern California and is married to the beautiful MaryRuth and a precious son Ryan, a miracle from God. He is a child of God who is committed to biblical understanding, prayer, spiritual growth, and integrity. He is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry, with a call upon his heart to bring discipleship materials to pastors and everyone who needs them here and overseas. He is also a researcher at the Schaeffer Institute and spent over fifteen years on an in-depth, careful and through study on End Times. He is the author of numerous articles, curriculum's and books such as "Into Thy Word," and is also an ordained pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California (Master of Divinity) and holds a Ph.D. (Practical Theology) from London. He has amounted over 25 years of pastoral ministry experience including serving as a church growth consultant.
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