What is a "Healthy Church"?
For months I've been dreaming, listening, talking, processing, and preparing to "give birth" to a healthy church. In preparation to share with our church plant team for Awaken Church this week, I began pondering if others know what I mean when I use the term "healthy church." In a moment of clarity, I opened the Bible to the book called Acts, and meditated on Acts 2:42-47. Then, last night, our team discussed this as I mostly listened. Here's where we landed:
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship and to sharing meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. - Acts 2:42
The apostles' teaching
The Word of God is the go-to resource for a healthy church. Taking the eternal truths found in this ancient story is essential in knowing, and living out, the way of Jesus. The Bible isn't simply to gain head knowledge, but it also impacts the heart and influences the hands.
We like food. Often we equate the term "fellowship" with food. Many churches have an area they call "the Fellowship Hall." What happens there? You eat. But the Fellowship is about more than eating together (although that is a part of it). The Fellowship is about people - about the whole church. Fellowship is about being together with others, who may or may not be just like you, on a journey with a purpose - a mission. Where there is a true Fellowship there is mutual trust and encouragement, as we worship Jesus together, and go together to carry out the mission of Jesus. True unity is based solely on the mission of Jesus.
The Lord's Supper
One of my young friends gave us this great quote: "Breaking bread" shows love and brotherhood. And this is specific bread... and specific wine. The Lord's Supper is an everlasting reminder of Who Jesus is and what He has done (and is doing). In the healthy church, Jesus is central and everything else revolves around Him. Jesus is the Subject, which means nothing else is the subject.
The healthy church is "where 2 or more are gathered," and offer praise and thanks to the Creator. The healthy church is where the Holy Spirit of God is acknowledged, and where the Holy Spirit reminds us of Who Jesus is. The healthy church joins hands and drops to their knees, and in so doing, no one can be pushed or kicked out. The healthy church is people who realize that we're all in some way unhealthy, and we can bring that to Jesus. The healthy church is where everything we do is birthed out of prayer, and is bathed in prayer!
We have a culture that is so results-driven, that we can't help but ask, "So, what are the results when we do this?" More than likely, when we first hear the question, "What is a healthy church?" we think in terms of growing numbers of people and finances. And here is where the passage in Acts 2 takes us:
...and each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." -Acts 2:47b
First of all, in the healthy church, it is understood that it is Jesus Himself who makes us a part of the church. Followers of Jesus go to the Bible continually as we journey together on the mission of Jesus, because Jesus IS the subject... and prayer becomes an utmost priority. And then, the Lord adds to the church! He is the only One who can save, after all. For 2,000 years this has been happening. Jesus gives those who follow Him this charge (Matthew 28): be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Be a church that sends people out, and doesn't simply gather people together to fill seats each week. Be a church that plants churches that plant churches that plant churches. A healthy church takes what God adds, and sees it multiply!
A while back I wrote from my experience 5 Things Thriving Churches Have in Common. Those thoughts may help put this into a better perspective.
What thoughts do you have about "what is a healthy church"?