Signs of a Healthy Church

15 Oct

Recently, I read a great book by Mark Dever (the Senior Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC) called What is a Healthy Church?

In his chapter on Biblical Discipleship and Growth he has a wonderful section on what ‘growth’ does and doesn’t look like.  I thought I would share that section with you this week (but I encourage you to read the whole book!).

“When you peer into the life of a church, the growth of its members can show up in all sorts of ways”. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Growing numbers being called to missions – ‘I’ve enjoyed sharing the gospel with my neighbours from South America. I wonder if God is calling me to…’ 
  • Older members getting a fresh sense of their responsibility in evangelism and in discipling younger members – ‘Why don’t you come over for dinner?’ 
  • Younger members attending the funerals of the older members out of love – ‘As a single man in my twenties, it was so good to be taken in by Mr. and Mrs….’ 
  • Increased praying in the church and more prayers centred on evangelism and ministry opportunities – ‘I’m starting an evangelistic Bible study at work and I’m a little nervous. Would the church pray that…’ 
  • More members sharing the gospel with outsiders. 
  • Less reliance among members on the church’s programs and more spontaneous ministry activities arising from members – ‘Pastor, what would you think if Sally and I organised a Christmas tea for the ladies in the church as an evangelistic opportunity?’ 
  • Informal gatherings among church members characterised by spiritual conversation, including an apparent willingness to confess sin while simultaneously pointing to the cross – ‘Hey brother, I’m really struggling with…’ 
  • Increased and sacrificial giving – ‘Honey, how can we cut fifty dollars from our monthly budget in order to support…’ 
  • Increased fruits of the Spirit. 
  • Members making career sacrifices so that they can serve the church – ‘Did you hear that Chris turned down a promotion three times so that he could continue devoting himself to being an elder?’ 
  • Husbands leading their wives sacrificially – ‘Honey, what are several things I can do to make you feel more loved and understood?’ 
  • Wives submitting to their husbands – ‘Sweetheart, what are some things I can do today that will make you life easier?’ 
  • Parents discipling their children in the faith – ‘Tonight let’s pray for Christian workers in the country of…’ 
  • A corporate willingness to discipline unrepentant and public sin. 
  • A corporate love for an unrepentant sinner shown in the pursuit of him or her before discipline is enacted – ‘Please, if you get this message, I would love to hear from you.’”

As I read that list it made me thankful for our church and all the true gospel growth I have seen and continue to see.  At the same time it challenged me to continue to pray for us all and teach God’s word faithfully so that we might continue to see true Gospel growth.

Phil Colgan


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