We live in a broken world, which has been this way since Adam’s fall in the garden. But as the Scripture tells us, this world will “wax worse and worse,” which is happening faster and faster right before our eyes. Even with this happening, we can find comfort when God tells us that where sin abounds, grace does much more. However, with that knowledge, the Church was left in this world to change the world, not changed by the world. The Church can only do that if the Church is healthy. So, I would like for us to look together at what the Bible points out as characteristics of a Healthy Church.
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1 - A Healthy Church Is A Bible Church
What is a Bible Church? It is a Church that prays and fasts because Jesus (the Word of God, John 1:1) did and instructed us to do so as well. These practices are our communication and connection to God. A Bible church is also one that, no matter the situation, takes the faith once delivered (Jude 3) as the sole authority for living and views the world through its lens. Society may change, worldviews may vary, and preachers may change, but the Word of God is established forever and does not change. John Wesley taught that theological concepts could be understood by using the following four sources: Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. The latter three could only be viable if they did not violate the first. A healthy church must be a Bible Church.
2 - A Healthy Church is a Loving Church
A Loving Church is a church that focuses on others rather than itself. What is a loving church’s focus? First, our focus must be God; we must love God, and the Scripture directs us that we must keep His commandments to love God. But His commandments are not grievous. They revolve around loving others. Second, we must love our neighbors. Simply said, we must love all humanity. We must care for others as God cares for us and treat them as we would want to be treated. Lastly, Jesus said we must love one another, that is, our brothers and sisters in Christ. A loving Church shows its love for God by evangelizing, discipling, and caring for each other’s needs. If we love like this, we will then not violate any commandment of God. To be a Healthy church, we must love as God loves.
3 - A Healthy Church is a Spirit-Led Church
Being a Spirit-Led Church is more than having Spirit-filled services. While that is part of a Spirit-Led church, it does not define the Church. A Spirit-Led Church finds its life (being, purpose) defined by the Spirit. Without the Spirit, the Church is a social club. A Spirit-Led church will fulfill (direction) purpose by the Spirit. The Church answers the question of where, how, and when we are going not on human knowledge alone but by the direction of the Spirit. Through this, the Spirit creates, directs, and calls ministries in the Church. Following the leadership of the Holy Spirit is one aspect of a Healthy Church.
4 - A Healthy Church is a Gathering Church
The Church doesn’t just come together to have something to do on Sundays and Wednesdays. The church gathers first because we are told to come together; secondly, that was the example of the early Church. As the Church gathers, it is the place where we minister one to another, the gifts to the body (Ephesians 4:11) are established, and the Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) are in action. Ministers are called and sent from the gathering body. Simply put, it is how the Church grows. The gathering church is the garden bed where the Church receives the nutrients to develop to the full potential God places in it. If we are to be a Healthy Church, we must gather together.
5 - A Healthy Church is a Discipling Church
The Church grew from 120 people in an upper room in Jerusalem to over 2 billion across the world today. In 2000+ years, the Church has become a world changer, although many have attempted to destroy the Church throughout history. How has the Church remained for so long? Obliviously, the Lord has had His hand on the Church, but the Church is also always looking, finding, and releasing the next generations of believers to carry on the faith once delivered. A healthy Church will always be looking for those to continue the faith. A Healthy Church will always be looking for its replacement in this world. A Healthy Church will be focused on the right time to pass the baton so the spreading of the faith can continue. A Healthy Church will continuously Discover, Develop, and Deploy by discipling those in what we have been given, the faith once delivered.
6 - A Healthy Church is a We Church
We can't be confused. The Church is a we (us) Church, not a wee (little) Church. A we Church is one that looks out for and cares for one another rather than just caring for oneself. There are no big I's and little U's in a We Church. Every person in the Church is important. Every person in the Church has their own place and calling. Every person in the Church works together to complete the whole. Nehemiah's prayer for the broken-down walls of Jerusalem is a great example of a We Church. He prayed and asked God to forgive our sins, not just their sins, he included himself as a part of the whole. If the Church is a Healthy Church we will have a care and responsibility for one another that proves we are better together.
7 - A Healthy Church is a Sending Church
From 120 to over 2 billion was not achieved by every church trying to keep every believer. The Church would see a need and send men and women to help meet the need in Christ. How will they hear unless a preacher is sent? A sending Church will equip men and women for ministry and send them into the field for the work. Paul commended the Philippians because they “sent once and again unto my necessity.” They did send a person, but they sent a person to help spread the gospel. Think about sending like any plant. It takes in the necessary nutrients to grow and thrive, and the byproduct of this is the plant releases oxygen into the air, which helps others live. A healthy Church will send what will help others to live. Out of life, the Sending Church will send life.