Research Study By Jewel D. Williams
Titled: The Life of a Healthy Church
How we lead as a church results in what we really look like to the world at large. What a church looks like to a visitor speaks more than we think it does. What the building looks like, tells those that come, how important it is to the congregation. If it has chipping paint, bad bathrooms or poor sound systems, visitors will not come away with a good impression of who we are. Yet, this is not a new idea to keep God’s house in good working order.
“Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink; but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:2-6).
The author points out that for any changes to happen, they must come from leadership first. It puts a big responsibility on leadership, but it will not take root unless leadership is one hundred percent for the process.
One of the principles given by this writer states “Let’s practice what we preach and put thorns in our laurels” (36). In this principle the authors point out that we tend to rest on our laurels – accomplishments of the past. “By putting thorns in our laurels, we learn not to rest on them. Just because a church has been effective in the past doesn’t mean it will be that way in the present or future” (36). The authors also state, “Talk, talk, talk. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It sometimes fools us into thinking we’ve done what we talk about. It keeps us busy, so busy that we have no time to implement what we’ve discussed” (44).
Another principle that our church needs to look at is principle number six. It states, “Invest the time and money to teach, train and retrain people to develop their skills and to implement quality ministry methods” (40). We tend to take people because they are willing and put them into positions of leadership or responsibility without preparing them for success. We tend to believe the Holy Spirit will help them. While this is true to a point, we are still required to learn how to do the job well. It is the responsibility of those in leadership, for example, to ensure their teachers are equipped to teach. “Churches seem so quick to put people into ministry roles with little or no training, and then we wonder why people aren’t more effective” (40). Scripture addresses this well when it states, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).
Principle nine states, “Build a team mind-set to avoid departmental barriers” (61). “The goal is to get us thinking and acting like a single team instead of many little teams” (61). Another difficulty we have is some are only concerned about their auxiliary and that can lead to conflict. “Inflexibility is one of the worst human failings” (101).
There are reasons that a leader may be enticed to base their ministry on selfish pursuits. These pursuits, however, will only lead to failure. For a biblically based foundation, the first place that one must begin is in the word of God. “It demands that we begin with God and the Bible rather than man and culture in order to understand God’s will in ministry” (Mayhue, 11). God’s word tells us “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). To have a successful ministry, one must look to God to understand his or her purpose, and depend totally on God for the strength to carry out the mission.
In the book, Natural Church Development by author Christian A. Schwarz, he lists several characteristics that are needed to produce a healthy church. He lists as the eight characteristic needed to grow a healthy church as, empowering leadership, gift-based ministry, passionate spirituality, effective structures, inspiring worship service, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism and loving relationships.
To understand how important these things are, we first look at what statistics show us is important to individuals as they are looking for a church home. The first was the pastor/preaching at 90%, the second was doctrines at 88%, friendliness of members at 49% and after some other listings he states sensed God’s presence/atmosphere of Church at 37% (21). These statistics show us what we need to do to become more effective in what we do. Let’s look at some of the characteristics.
Cited work / source documents
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Church Growth and Health: Church Growth Principles. 2007. 25 January 2007. http://Webct.macu.edu
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Keathley III, J. Hampton. Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader. 2005. 28 March 2006. http://www.Bible.org.
Longman, Jr., Robert. Spiritual Disciplines and practices. 2005. 28 March 2006. http://www.spirithome.com/spirdisc.html.
MacArthur, John, et. al. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005.
MacArthur, John F., Dr. The Call to Church Leadership. 1986. 4 April 2006. http://www.biblebb.com.
McGavran, Donald A. Understanding Church Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970.
Piper, John. The Marks of a Spiritual Leader. 2006. 28 March 2006. http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/leadership/marks_spiritual_leader.html.
Rainer, Thom S. Surprising Insights From The Unchurched. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.
Regele, Mike. Death of The Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995.
Rheenen, Gailyn Van. Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.
Schwarz, Christian A. Natural Church Development. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996.
Simpson, Sandy. The Duties of Christian Leadership. January 11, 2005. 28 March 2006.
Toler, Stan And Nelson, Alan. The Five Star Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books. 1999.
Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.