Is your church healthy? Is it growing and vibrant or is it stagnant and in decline? How can we tell if our church is healthy or not? The research findings of Christian Schwarz in his book “Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches” can help us answer these questions.
His study identifies eight essential elements that are in all healthy growing churches. He learned that God’s church will grow naturally if it is functioning in a healthy manner. He states that for a church to be healthy that all eight elements must be present.
Here are the eight essential qualities:
Empowering Leadership — Leaders of healthy growing churches are kingdom focused and because they are, they equip and empower believers to do the work of the ministry. They turn the pyramid of authority upside down by equipping, supporting, and mentoring their people. These leaders invest the majority of their time discipling, delegating, and releasing others to become all that God wants them to be.
Gift oriented Ministry — Leaders of healthy growing churches help their members identify their gifts and talents and to integrate them into appropriate ministries. Leaders of healthy churches know that when believers serve in their area of giftedness, they generally function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit. By doing so, they enable ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.
Passionate Spirituality — Members of healthy growing churches passionately pursue their relationship with Jesus and passionately pursue his mission. They live committed lives and practice their their faith with joy and enthusiasm. They are “on fire” for God.
Functional Structures — Healthy growing churches develop structures (systems and processes) that promote the on-going multiplication of the ministry. These leaders see the importance of developing others to lead. They continually assess current structures, processes, policies, and procedures in order to improve or eliminate those that may no longer work effectively or efficiently.
Inspiring Worship — In healthy growing churches the worship services are an inspiring and uplifting experience for participants. When worship is inspiring it draws people to your church. The style of the music by itself seems to be of less importance. What’s more important is that the music and the preaching of the word inspire people by connecting them to God.
Holistic Small Groups - Healthy churches continually multiply holistic small groups that go beyond just studying and discussing a Bible passage or topic. It is in these type of small groups where “discipleship” becomes practical as group members learn how to be “on mission” with Jesus. Holistic small groups emphasize the continual development of leaders as a by-product of normal group life and by doing so, ensures that multiplication takes place.
Need oriented Evangelism — Healthy growing churches focus it’s evangelism efforts on the needs of non-believers. All members are taught and encouraged to individually share Christ with those in their sphere of influence who do not know Jesus. Church leaders also discover those members who have the gift of evangelism and find ways to use them to reach lost people.
Loving Relationships — Healthy growing churches have a measurably higher “love quotient” than stagnant and declining churches. Churches that genuinely “love one another” have a divinely generated magnetic power that is far more effective in reaching lost people than most of our evangelistic programs. Christ-like love is contagious and people are attracted to a church that not only talks about love, but puts love into practice.
To reach our city, our state and nation, and the world for Jesus, we need growing healthy churches that are vibrant, alive, and on fire for Jesus. Use these eight qualities to do an assessment of your church and to make adjustments and improvements as needed.
For additional information about Natural Church Development and their research on church health, please go to www.ncd-international.org or www.ncdamerica.org.