Sunday, February 8, 2009

25 Signs of a Healthy Church (Part 2 of 3)

Sign #9 The church practices accountability and maintains high expectations - for themselves and for others. In healthy congregations, members help one another mature as Christians. They never lower the requirements of membership or discipleship to appeal to the uncommitted or to draw larger crowds. Their growth may not be immediate, but it is certain. And it is both numerical and qualitative.

Sign #10 Don't try to do everything, but what they do they do well. They utilize a team approach, using the gifts of individuals. Healthy churches prioritize, and they intentionally neglect those things they should not do or that they cannot do well.

Sign #11 The church has focus and purpose. They're intentional and only do those things that move them toward the fulfillment of that vision. They understand and distinguish between the essential and the extraneous.

Sign #12 The church is proactive, not reactive. Healthy churches help create their future. They do not wait passively to see what will happen. They're constantly praying and assessing their present and their potential.

Sign #13 People feel accepted, encouraged, and included. An important characteristic of healthy churches is the way they include others. People who visit these churches find a genuine welcome and a compelling sense of community. As a result, they want to be a part of the church.

Sign #14 The church builds families (including singles). No church is stronger than the families and the individuals that make it up. Because of that, churches do well to help build their members into growing, vibrant, balanced, relational Christians. All are considered important. Regardless of the church's size, appropriate ministries are provided for every age group and life circumstance (singles, blended families, empty-nesters, etc.).

Sign #15 Conflict is handled positively and redemptively. Realistically, no church can expect to avoid conflict. It's a part of life. But there are differences in the way conflict is handled and the degree of impact it has. Unfortunately, in some churches it's like an Olympic competition - fierce and unyielding. Those churches that handle conflict well actually grow stronger and are better able to withstand whatever may come.

Sign #16 The church is forgiving, but not compromising on sin. These churches aren't judgmental, but always show genuine compassion and concern for people. However, they leave no doubt about God's high standards or their absolute commitment to living according to those standards.

(Written by Marvin Owen, the church health strategist for the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention, Casper, Wyoming.)

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