When you do a good amount of Church Health or Church Revitalization reading, you will start to see some common themes emerge. I can almost guarantee you that you will read about prayer, discipleship, outward orientation, mission and vision. Those topics come up over and over again. And they need to. They are all important.
So what catches my attention is the stuff that doesn’t get mentioned very often. Let me highlight a few of those things. It’s not an exhaustive list but just stuff worth thinking about.
1) Sunday’s still matter. I don’t want to start any sort of missional vs. attractional debate but it matters that we gather together as God’s people. Who we are and what we do when we gather matters. What do people see when they join us? What do they hear? Do they feel welcome? Do they need some sort of interpreter to keep up with our lingo? We need to keep looking at what we do when we gather and make sure we aren’t just going through the motions.
2) Your church website is very important. More often than not, people will check out your website before they even show up at anything. So your church needs one, it needs to be well done and up-to-date.
3) Your home is a ministry tool. We hear all the time how neighborhoods and workplaces are mission fields. Your home needs to become a place of harvest. Too often we turn our homes into fortresses where we escape. But our homes (and maybe especially our tables) need to be turned into welcoming places where fellowship and hospitality are practiced and where life and love are shared.
4) Our prayers need to be “start with me prayers”. And “here I am, send me” prayers. It is fine to pray that the church would grow, that people would enter into relationship with Jesus, that needs would be met and that ministry would be staffed. But often the answer to those prayers may not be “out there”. It might be us. So we need to pray, listen and respond obediently.
5) If we are thinking about having a healthy church, we need to be thinking about church planting. If we are really doing a good job of reaching to all those who need Jesus, it would make sense that at some point we will need to find different expressions of gathering together. Church will never be one size fits all. And we were never called to build the biggest gathering. We are called to have healthy churches within reach of all people. That means church planting needs to be on the radar of every church wanting to be healthy.
Hopefully at least one of these will give you and your church something to think about. Let’s keep asking each other good questions so that we can be all God longs for us to be as His church.
Director of Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada