If Your Church Is Healthy, Why Is It Still Small?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/emagic/56206868/“How can you say your church is healthy if it’s not growing?”

If I’ve been asked it once…

But I still don’t know how to answer it.

I wish I did. Because it’s a perfectly valid question.

But life doesn’t tie itself up in tidy answers to tough questions like we wish it did. At least it hasn’t for this question. Not for me and the great church I serve. Not yet, anyway.

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2 thoughts on “If Your Church Is Healthy, Why Is It Still Small?”

  1. I am still trying to figure out what people mean by a healthy church. If healthy means obedient to God’s calling then a church of 20 that has seen little numeric growth can be just as healthy as a church of 200 that has seen sizeable numeric growth. On the flip side a church of 2000 that continues to increase in size does not guarantee that it is healthy. This is not an attempt to say big is bad but instead health is not measured in numeric growth; that is a human standard of effectiveness. To take it to an extreme the online porn industry has seen considerable growth but most people would not consider it healthy. I worked at a small church in transition that had been unhealthy due to 2 of their former pastors attempting to grow the size of church while attacking those who already attended for the lack of numeric growth. Once we started the transition process, health returned because the church became more interested in waiting on God than in numeric growth. They grew as followers of Christ by seeking to be obedient. They are healthier than they have been in a long time but I would say by this time next year they should be even healthier. If each day they submit to God they become healthier then when are they healthy enough to grow? In the church I am talking about growth has started but the next church in transition that I work with could take a longer or shorter period of time.

    Extremely unhealthy churches are usually easy to spot but healthy churches are much more difficult to define. That being said, I believe that health is only a part of it. A healthy church may have to wait until an unhealthy world around them is ready to discover God through their church. All we can do is grow in our relationship with God seeking to be obedient. Waiting on God is a godly action even if it causes no immediate change to the size of the congregation.

  2. I really appreciate David’s question and insight. It helps me to think of health connected to spiritual health. Are our congregants healthy and growing in their relationship with God? Which doesn’t make answering the question any easier, but narrows the definition a bit for me. I think we have a responsibility as pastors to have some way to measure spiritual growth in our people. I agree that on the one hand it is a great mystery and out of our control. On the other hand, though, I think we must find a way that works for us to see it, measure it and celebrate it in ourselves and those we serve. A popular Christian leader once said something to the effect – The only thing crazier than trying to measure spiritual growth is NOT trying to measure spiritual growth. I think smaller churches provide a much more reasonable environment to carry out this responsibility.

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