This time of year everyone is thinking about getting in shape, losing weight, and getting a handle on several areas of discipline in life. But what about the church? A healthy church should at times examine themselves as well. Paul told the people of Corinth individually to examine themselves right before the partaking of communion. It is also a good thing for the church to examine themselves as to their health as a body of believers. Here are some things to think about.
1. Is there healthy worship? Worship is a buzz word today, but it shouldn’t scare you. Healthy worship is important. Is worship thought through by the leadership? Is there understanding of all that should be included in a “service of worship?” Is there follow-up discussion after the service with a healthy examination if the goals were reached?
2. Is there healthy view of Scripture? Are the elders spending sufficient time in prayer and the Word? Is there exegetical accuracy? Is there homelitical clarity? Is there passion and energy in the delivery? Is there sufficient illustration? Is there discussion after the message by the leadership that includes careful critique of both exegesis and delivery? What are the common mistakes that are made and is there a plan in place to fix them? Often, a high view of Scripture means you can’t ever question the pastor. A humble pastor will desire feedback and constantly look for ways to communicate Scripture because he has a high view of Scripture and a low view of himself.
3. Is there a healthy view of membership? Membership is vital for many reasons but none more vital than simple good health. Membership is often looked at as an option and only for those who are pious. Scripture gives a different story. When the early church began people who were born again were “added” to the church daily (Acts 2:47). This opened the door to careful accountability and shepherding (see Acts 5). A membership class that effectively teaches the philosophy and direction of the church plays a vital role in this process.
4. Is healthy discipleship taught and modeled? Discipleship is the task of every believer. It is also one of the most difficult tasks of every believer. It takes time and is often very messy. Caring for someone spiritually is demanding and very often inconvenient. Discipleship needs to be taught and modeled. It must come from the top down in a church. If a pastor is not visibly passionate about making disciples, the people will follow. Discipling is multifaceted and can take on many forms but the result has to be that a person becomes more like Christ and less like themselves in areas of living. A healthy church reproduces.
5. Is there a healthy prayer emphasis? Prayer is another very difficult discipline. Prayer speaks to our dependence upon Christ and ultimately displays our genuine faith in Him. Healthy praying is not horizontal but vertical. We don’t merely pray for manward things but pray heavenward. Read the apostle Paul’s prayers for patterns (Col 1 and Eph 1) as well as Christ prayer he taught His disciples and then compare those prayers to our normal prayers (Matt 6).
Health is vital. There are certainly more points than this and we will look at more later.