Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Makes a Healthy Church?

Many things contribute to the stability and health of a church. Here are a few:

1. GOOD LEADERSHIP – Not just leadership, but “good” leadership. Wise, godly, and experienced leadership plays a critical role in the stability of a church. Leadership can bring out the best or the worst in people – because people generally pick up the traits of their leaders and become a product of what is poured into them – not in teaching only, but in the lifestyle of the leader.

Not everyone who aspires to the office of "pastor" (elder, bishop, overseer) is really called of God to be there. Human ambition has placed them there, and the fruit (results) of their leadership is obvious.

Nothing, but nothing, can ever replace the men/women who have been genuinely called of God. In Jeremiah 3:15 God says, "I will give you pastors ACCORDING to MY HEART, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Men like these are gifts from God. Trust no one else to be invited into your life.

2. BALANCED DOCTRINE – Sometimes people have “pet” doctrines which they especially like to hear or talk about. They often have a “little trail through the Bible” and never move out into the brush lands of God’s Word. A healthy church needs to hear the whole counsel of God’s Word – through a broad range of instruction. We need to hear about the benefits and the responsibilities – history and prophecies – goodness and severity – heaven and hell – grace and judgment.

At Pace Community Church, our #9 core belief states: “Moderation & Balance. All truth and all Biblical teaching must be balanced with other scriptural truth in order to AVOID EXTREMISM or FANATICISM. The best way to interpret scripture is with other scripture.”

We are a healthy church because we maintain a balance in doctrine and avoid extremism.

3. PROPER GOALS - Goals are important to the stability of a church. People must have a sense of purpose, and must be kept busy in reaching those goals. People who remain idle for very long tend to get into mischief or drift away. If a church loses its vision for its purpose and mission, it will shift its focus inward, and when that happens, problems will result. Churches who do not establish goals are simply “running laps” each Sunday and are going nowhere. How dead is that?

A healthy church sets its objectives upon Jesus and His plan for the church — reaching the lost, evangelizing the world, making disciples, and meeting the needs of people.

- The Bible talks more about UNITY of the church than it does about either heaven or hell. It’s really THAT IMPORTANT. I have a conviction. One of my roles as a senior pastor is to always keep an eye open for potential divisiveness within our church family. As a pastor I must teach God’s Word, I must pray, I must be an example, and I must shepherd God’s sheep. Yet I must also do those things with an eye towards developing unity and confronting disunity – which is exactly what I do. Furthermore, I teach and train our church leaders to do the same.

The reason PCC is such a healthy and stable church is because we have built one of the friendliest churches in the area. It is the number one refrain we hear from our guests. It is also the reason why we are able to maintain long-term unity.

The people who attend our church are harmonious, unified, happy, and get along. They know how to work through their differences. When tension arises in our midst, most members are able to resolve the matter in a mature, spiritual manner. Those who don’t, well, they just move on.

For more on this subject you may see a post I wrote on May 29th . Just go to the blog archives.

5. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – A church must be a wise and honest steward over the tithes and offerings of God's people. The issue of money — how it is raised and spent — is one of the most sensitive matters that many churches face.

PCC maintains good books and accounting records, complying with State and Federal law. Safety protocols, double verification, and check-and-balances are kept in place to ensure safety and integrity. Spending is monitored closely, and frugality is emphasized. We ask people to give each week, as an act of worship, and towards a God-honoring, Christ-exalting vision. And guess what? You do! That demonstrates your high level of devotion to God and trust in your church leadership.

These are a few of the reasons why PCC is such a healthy, stable church.