Once in a while, I get to know a church that genuinely seems “happy.” I know that term is subjective, but I trust you get my point – these churches are just different from the church that is dealing with dysfunction and turmoil. Here are some markers of happy churches:
- Nothing seems to hinder their worship. They gather together, sing God’s praises, and express their love for Him with enthusiasm. They make you want to know their God.
- The people actually smile. Sure, some folks don’t—but they’re the exception rather than the rule in these churches. In happy churches, smiles reflect joy that is genuine and obvious.
- The staff have fun together. You can tell it in the office during the day and from the platform on Sunday morning. Nobody’s competing with others or speaking against them behind their back. The staff are friends. Real friends.
- The people share burdens through prayer. This may not sound “happy,” but shared burdens are always lighter burdens. Even from the stage, church leaders take time to pray deeply for their church family.
- They trust each other first when they deal with disagreement. That is, they don’t assume the worst about one another. They might disagree—even strongly—but they work through the issues because they trust each other’s heart.
- They hang out before and after the service. Few people run out the door when the service ends. Instead, they stick around and talk. And talk some more. And then decide to have lunch together. They just like being together.
- They have strong small groups with caring leaders. It’s in their small groups that they share their concerns, seek prayer, and support one another. They share life together, building up the family of Christ rather than tearing it down.
- Their members give sacrificially. They do that not only because they want to give to God’s work, but also because they trust their church leaders and their vision. Giving is fun when you know it supports work you believe in.
- They don’t have a lot of business meetings – and the meetings they do have are friendly and encouraging. Their meetings are about praising God for what He’s done and casting vision for what the future may hold. They’re unifying rather than divisive.
- They invite unchurched friends to join them. They don’t protect “their church” from outsiders; instead, they so love what’s happening that they want others to be a part. Invitations come easy.
I admit that I don’t find many churches who fit these characteristics. Perhaps that’s why they so grab my attention when I do – and why I want other churches to experience the same.