10 Sure Signs You're in a Healthy Church

  • Michelle Lazurek
10 Sure Signs You're in a Healthy Church

No church is perfect. It’s full of imperfect people who come together for a common goal: to love Jesus and to tell about Him to those who don’t know Him.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples formed a church, explained in the book of Acts. An account of this early church in Acts 2:42-47 is perhaps the best example of what of what a healthy church should look like:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

So, what does this mean for the church today? Here are 10 characteristics of a healthy church:

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1. A healthy church produces new leaders.

1. A healthy church produces new leaders.

Jesus spent a lot of his time with the 12 disciples, and He spent extra time with three particular people—Peter, James, and John—whom He trained closely to carry on his legacy.

Churches that don’t pour into others to make them leaders are missing the mark. Ministries soon become about the leader rather than the fulfilling the purpose of why they exist. Good leaders identify and train others with potential to eventually take over the ministry.

Although not explicitly stated, I imagine the disciples took turns teaching and leading those in their fellowship. As the early church grew, the original leaders identified more leaders in the congregation to better serve the growing body (Acts 6:1-7). No one person assumed every responsibility. And because Jesus had worked with them often and closely, they all got a first-hand glimpse at what it meant to go out into the world, meeting the needs of those around them.

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2. A healthy church helps members crave meat, not milk.

2. A healthy church helps members crave meat, not milk.

"But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh." (1 Corinthians 3:1-3a)

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food." (Hebrews 5:12)

The responsibility to grow church members rests both in leadership and in the members themselves. So often, I come away from events and sermons that give no specific application to the audience, using cliché verses that are either taken out of context or don’t reveal new truths to the more mature believer. Teaching is not the only way we grow—but it is a vital tool for regular attenders.

As for the members’ responsibility to grow: when Paul mentions that the people of his church were still drinking spiritual milk, I don’t doubt he urged his church to chew on what he was saying and apply it to their lives, rather than rely on him for a constant feeding. Church members are responsible for their own growth too. We must apply the word, not just hear it.

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3. A healthy church devotes itself to prayer.

3. A healthy church devotes itself to prayer.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:5)

If the saying, “the family that prays together, stays together,” is true, the same goes for a congregation. Not every church has a regular prayer meeting to pray together. But God knows those that go into their prayer closets to pray. Those that beseech the Lord for His will instead of their own create a recipe for a healthy congregation.

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4. A healthy church has members who serve with joy.

4. A healthy church has members who serve with joy.

"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." (Galatians 5:13)

"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." (Romasn 7:6)

Ministries take work. In some cases, a ministry may make take hours of volunteer time. Yet healthy church members serve with joy, knowing they are investing in the Gospel being preached to all who benefit from that ministry.

 

  • Helpers in children’s church can take solace that the Word is being planting in those young minds and hearts.
  • Those that give their lives to missions can know God will not allow that work to return void.

Service is not a chore, but a privilege. Healthy people know that and embrace that reality.

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5. A healthy church has members who resolve interpersonal conflict in a healthy way.

5. A healthy church has members who resolve interpersonal conflict in a healthy way.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

If a church member is mad at someone else in the congregation, they should go to the person directly about the matter, not spread gossip to everyone else. Here’s how Scripture teaches us to resolve interpersonal conflict:

 

  1. Healthy members go to the offender first to show care and consideration for the other.
  2. If the two cannot reconcile, enlist the help of someone you know to go with you to confront the person.
  3. If that still doesn’t work, then go to your pastor or another leader in the church. (This is not the first step.)

Do your best to resolve it, but if you can’t, leave vengeance in God’s hands, not yours.

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6. A healthy church is made up of people who appreciate the past but look forward to the future.

6. A healthy church is made up of people who appreciate the past but look forward to the future.

The world is a tumultuous place. With so much sin and uncertainty, it can feel overwhelming at times. It is tempting to imagine a simpler time in the past—a time when a ministry worked better and the world in general seemed like an easier place to live. But healthy churches don’t relish in the past. Rather, they move forward with confidence that God is in control of the world. They do whatever they can to advance the Gospel instead of allowing the enemy to trick them into staying stuck in the past.

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7. A healthy church is an accountable church.

7. A healthy church is an accountable church.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Even when a church appears healthy, the enemy still seeks to kill and destroy anything that gives God glory, rather than Him (John 10:10). Members know that if they are falling into sin, they must confess that to someone. Healthy churches confess their sins not only to God, but to each other. This also includes pastors. Pastors need to find wise counsel outside of their congregation to make sure they are not falling into sin too.

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8. A healthy church gives cheerfully.

8. A healthy church gives cheerfully.

The Acts church was so devoted to each other, they sold everything they had to give to those within their fellowship that had need.

"All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need."  (Acts 2:44-45)

If churches gave this way today, everyone’s needs would be met enough to where they could then pay it forward to others in the world with a need.

"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

God loves a cheerful giver, and the Acts church was a great example of that.

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9. A healthy church bears one another’s burdens.

9. A healthy church bears one another’s burdens.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2

One of the best characteristics of a healthy church is one that genuinely cares and connects with its members. They don’t view each other as burdens, but rather go out of their way to bear one another’s burdens. When people feel like others genuinely care about them, they are a part of a healthy congregation. 

In a previous article, I wrote about depression and the church. Many readers responded that their number one concern with the church is that they were dismissive when it came to expressing themselves honestly about their mental illness and that most other church members didn’t care. They said people offered platitudes such as, “just trust the Lord and your depression will go away.”

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10. A healthy church welcomes strangers.

10. A healthy church welcomes strangers.

According to Acts 2:42-47, as the church met the needs of those around them, “the Lord added to their number daily.” Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 25:35:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

When we welcome in the hurting, the downtrodden, and the poor without expecting anything in return, it is like we are doing it for the Lord. And any church that welcomes Jesus is a healthy one. 

Church can get messy. However, for churches that are willing to lay aside their own agendas and emulate the Acts Church example, the Lord will add to their number, making being a part of church truly a joy.

Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

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