What Is A Healthy Church?

September 30th, 2014
What does a healthy church look like? The most common answer to this question would be, "It looks like a large church or a growing church."
I believe that healthy churches are growing churches, but I also fear that this is far too simple an answer. Pastors and church leaders that focus on growth as the essential evidence of health may be trying too hard to concentrate on the externals. It never works out well when we do that.

Underneath, every healthy church looks the same – no matter what size it is. The principles that make Larger Churches Healthy are the same ones that make Smaller Churches Healthy. The same missteps can also kill that health.

A Biblical Model

One of the foundational principles of having a healthy church is to establish your model on a Scriptural Model rather than a Cultural Model. Your church will only please God if it is following the plan and the pattern of the Bible. Growth as a barometer of health, can lead to many unscriptural methods of ministry.
Every church needs a plan and a pattern to build upon, and that model is found in the Bible. In many contemporary churches today, success has become the model standard rather than using the standard found in the scriptures.

I do not think that there is one right personality for all churches, but all churches should be using the model based on the fundamentals the Saviour gave us – namely, the Great Commission and the Growth of Christians. Although every church has its own personality and its own flavor, it is essential that we pick a Biblically based model and stick with it.

Fortunately, much of this work has already been done for us. There are some great models to help a church understand what a Biblical approach to ministry looks like. Some of the elements that all healthy churches have in common would include these:

·         Servant Leadership – Illustration
·         Gift-Oriented Ministry - Motivation
·         Passionate Spirituality - Attraction
·         Efficient Organizational Structures - Administration
·         Inspiring Worship Service - Inspiration
·         Zealous Preaching Focused - Information
·         Compassionate Evangelism - Transformation
·         Building Caring Relationships - Association
·         Missions Minded – Collaboration

A church that has all of these elements in balance would obviously be a healthy church, and no doubt, a growing church. When a church has a strong Biblical model, it will also be a church with a great love for the Bible.

A Biblical Motive

Unfortunately, too many ministry leaders have an agenda, and that agenda is only Success Focused, not Saviour Focused. I know, because early in my ministry I struggled with this conflict of agenda myself. Why we do what we do is just as important as what we do. Look at how subtly our hidden motives can impact church health:

     Success Focused Motives Look Like This:

·         Worship – So The Church Will Grow Larger
·         Discipleship – So The Church Will Grow Lager
·         Fellowship – So The Church Will Grow Larger
·         Ministry – So The Church Will Grow Larger
·         Evangelism – So The Church Will Grow Larger

Any church that focuses on these elements with that agenda behind them will not be a healthy church, no matter how well they are done. Of course, growing the church is a great goal, but it is important, especially in church leadership, to do the right things for the right reasons.

     Saviour Focused Motives Look Like This:

·         Worship – To Tell The Lord Jesus How Much We Love Him
·         Discipleship – To Help Us Become More Like Jesus Christ
·         Fellowship – To Love Our Brothers And Sisters In Christ More
·         Ministry – To Meet People’s Needs As We Show Them The Love Of Christ
·         Evangelism – To Bring People To Jesus Christ

Doing the right things for the right reasons will always produce a healthy church, even if it does not always build a big one.

Expectations & Frustrations!

September 8th, 2014

This past Sunday I preached on the subject of Expectations & Frustrations. I was dealing with this question: What does an Eternal God Expect from us? What does a perfect, infallible, holy God Expect from imperfect, fallible, sinful men? 

Someone anonymously said, “Frustration is the conflict between expectation and reality.” Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing what someone expects!

Dr. John Lund has said, “All Frustration Comes From Expectations.” Think about it - whenever I am feeling frustrated, it is because there was an expectation somewhere in my mind that was never met. If I have no expectations of a person or situation, I cannot be disappointed. Relationships are a great example. We continually set up expectations for how the people we love should behave - what they should say, do, and should not do. We are often disappointed because they do not live up to our ideals. But how can they live up to our ideals when we have never communicated to them what we expect? This is the trouble with expectations. We often do not have a clear view of what we expect, and even when we do, we rarely communicate it. We then blame others for our frustration, crying, “You should have known!”

We all live in a Gap - the Gap between what we Expect and what we Experience. This Expectation Gap is where our dreams die and passions fade. So often, folks lose their vision, and this loss of vision is many times the birthplace of our frustration, our disappointment, and even our discouragement and depression!

Let me dig just a little deeper - frustration is born in the space between our expectations and our actual experiences. How often have we thought or maybe even said, "This isn't what I thought marriage would be like.” Maybe we thought the job was going to be different. Have you ever thought or said, "I never imagined that Christians would act that way.” We have all been there! We are overcome with frustration and left with nothing but unmet expectations. How are we supposed to respond when our expectations turn to frustration?

1. Do We Suck It Up And Get On With Life? 

2. Do We Simply Lower Our Expectations? 

3. Or, Could Our Expectations Of Others And Of Our Circumstances Be Connected To A Misunderstanding Of God’s Expectations?

What happens when God is at the center of our unmet expectations? Did you pray and find He did not come through? When it seems that the God who loves you did not provide for you in the way you had hoped - what are you supposed to do? Often when this is our reality, we hear this warmed over answer: “You failed to live up to God’s expectations, and for that reason, He did not meet your expectations! It was, of course, because of your failure that God did not answer your prayer!” While this may be the opinion of the brethren, I for one am trying to figure out when He ever answered our prayers based upon our merits.

Most of our frustrations begin when our own personal experiences are not meeting our own expectations, or not meeting what we perceive to be God’s expectations! What do we do when we are the ones not living up to the expectations of God and others? How do we avoid the weight of disappointment when we do not measure up? And what should our response be to our own negative opinions in our lives? What do we do when the expectations of others get between us and who we are in Christ?

Listen to the Apostle Paul’s greatest fear spelled out to the Corinthian believers in II Corinthians 11:3. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

Satan always moves men away from simplicity and toward complexity! Whenever things get complicated, get Back To The Basics. Focus On The Fundamentals!

Many of the disheartened, defeated, discouraged saints of God need a simplification of their expectations to conquer their frustrations! We simply need to get Back To The Basics! We need to Focus On The Fundamentals of what it means to be a child of God. I do not need to live up to anyone else’s expectations. First and foremost, I need to figure out what God expects and make that my focus.

(O. T. EXPECTATIONS) Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (THE FOCUS IS ON OUR DUTY)

(N. T. EXPECTATIONS) Colossians 1:10 “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (THE FOCUS IS ON OUR DEVOTION)