Over more than 20 years, our Lawless Group team has conducted hundreds of church health surveys. Most of the time, the churches with whom we work characterize themselves as “marginally unhealthy” or worse. Occasionally, though, we work with a church that sees themselves as “marginally healthy” or stronger. Here are some characteristics of those latter churches:
- The preaching is strong. It’s clear. It’s biblical. The people leave the service knowing ways they can apply the Word to their life the rest of the week. Church members indicate that they learn a lot from the pastor’s preaching.
- The worship is God-centered and vibrant. The styles may differ, but the worship is well done. Excellence is an expectation. Connections between the music and the sermon are clear.
- Their small groups do outreach. Every healthy church with whom we’ve worked has some type of small group whose focus is reaching unchurched people. They choose their best teachers to lead the groups.
- They’ve dealt with cliques and divisions. It’s not that these churches don’t have internal struggles; it’s that they don’t allow early sparks to grow into big fires. They address conflict early on in the process.
- They have a clear outward focus. Their members intentionally know non-believers. They provide evangelism training. They welcome new church plants in their area. Their budget reflects dollars spent on others rather than themselves.
- They have a recognized strategy for producing disciples. The church has a membership class. They have a plan to disciple children, teens, and adults. The members know what that plan is, too.
- Prayer is a big deal. These churches pray throughout the week. They know prayer needs, and the church keeps members informed about answered prayers. Praying for pastors and missionaries is central to what they do.
- They teach members about giving. They don’t assume that believers know about budgeting, giving, tithing, etc. Instead, they intentionally build giving training into their overall strategy. Stewardship is thus a significant part of discipleship.
- They have a strong core group, but they also equip and invite others to serve. Long-term members are still critical to the work of the church, but they open the door for new members to serve as well. These churches genuinely work on setting up the next generation to lead the church into the future.
- They believe the Bible. Our survey asks some basic “agree/disagree” doctrinal questions (e.g., “The Bible is the Word of God”). It’s not a surprise to us that the more strongly the church affirms the Word, the closer the church will be to being healthy.
Any surprises here? How does your church compare? If you’re interested in the Church Health Report for your church, you can find it here.