5 Things Thriving Churches Have in Common

In the weeks immediately following my last Sunday as Lead Pastor with Oaklawn Church of God, Hot Springs, AR, my family had the opportunity (a very rare one for us for the past 18 years) to visit 7 churches.  Each of these congregations seemed to be doing better than "just surviving."  I would say that each of them is a "thriving church."

I'm defining thriving as "growth by the addition of numbers of people, and a spirit of focusing outward instead of inward." With this in mind, there were some things that I (and my lovely wife) noticed they had in common.

5 Things Thriving Churches Have in Common

1) Jesus is the subject!  In each church, there was no doubt about why they did what they did - Jesus.  Jesus was the center of what we experienced, and the diversity of celebrating Jesus was refreshing! While there were numerous activities and projects mentioned in each one, not one single time did it appear that anything other than Jesus was the main thing.

2) Children are a priority.  Every children's ministry experience was as different as the churches.  But in each case, children were much more than tolerated or ignored.  Whether a large children's ministry in a separate area of the facility, or if they remained the worship gathering with parents, children were an obvious priority.  As parents, the more prepared & safe the children's ministry seemed, the more we were able to engage in corporate worship ourselves.

3) Men are visibly engaged. Some of this may be due to different views on "women in ministry leadership," but in each congregation, men were very visibly engaged and involved.  Women were also visibly engaged (as is the case in just about every church I have ever been in), but the involvement of men really captured our attention.

4) A spirit of JOY!  In each congregation, there was an overwhelming feeling of joy.  People seemed genuinely glad to be there - much more than a sense of duty, or "this is what we do, so I'll tolerate it."  There was authentic joy and it was contagious and invigorating!

5) Celebrating the ministry of "others."  In the Church of God, we have a famous catch-phrase that comes from one of our heritage hymns: "we reach our hands in fellowship to every Blood-washed one."  2 of these 7 churches were of our tribe; the others were Lutheran, Baptist, Church of Christ, and non-denominational.  While recognizing our new mission to Natchitoches, LA, was a part of the "program" in 3 of these churches, EVERY church recognized my family and shared about our new church plant, and PRAYED over us! We've experienced great unity and support!

Receiving the "Sword of the Spirit" at LakePointe City Church

What have you observed that thriving churches have in common?

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