Church Health Resource
“Church Health: Functions, Practices, and
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., materials written and collected for these Library Articles
and for the publication of SkillTrack® Vol. 4 –
Church Health Resources
Church Health: More than a “Hot Topic”
Throughout recent years, church health has often come to my focused attention through research, writing, and conferences. From time to time, these findings will be posted as articles in the Servant Leaders Library.
Our intention is also to publish the materials in a SkillTrack® volume for conference, peer group, and independent study.
In my traffic patterns and conferences, ministry leaders often speak of church health, sharing their concepts and asking questions; I continue to learn from them and include their lessons in my own thinking. A vast amount of material is being researched and published on healthy churches, and denominational groups are making this one of their highest priorities. However, reality in church life indicates that we already know much more than we are putting into intentional, consistent practice.
You have also noticed, haven’t you, that this lofty subject is often and properly linked to that of “church growth”? Church health and church growth will continue to be of critical interest to churches and ministry leaders for decades to come. Each has its own central focus, but they are also mutually dependent.
- “Church growth” often emphasis the size and shape of the congregation, its role and influence in its cultural community, and the expansion of its ministry and resources for fulfilling its mission. Not surprisingly, church growth has encouraged us to pay attention to such matters as active membership, measurable attendance, biblical evangelism, and intentional outreach. Many leaders of the church growth movement have made major contributions to “church health.” Moreover, “church renewal” proponents have made
an impact on both the concerns for church growth and health.
- “Church health” has often been recognized as an essential and authentic corollary to the concerns of church growth. Church health has much to do with the relationship of the congregation to Christ and of fellow believers one to another within the fellowship. Health has much to do with the mind, soul, and spirit of the congregation. It focuses on the systems, vigor, and practices of the body of Christ to fulfill its whole mission. It is not unusual for “church health” to be discussed, even defined by such terms as: function, systems, factors, disciplines, practices, strategies, characteristics, and skills.
Health: Our Most Common Uses
- Dictionaries set out some of the most common ways the term “health” is used in regard to personal, human health:
- the overall well-being of a person at a given time
- the soundness or wholeness of the body and mind
- possessing good health in body, mind, and spirit
- freedom from physical pain, disease, or infirmity
- the state of being strong, hale, hardy, or robust
- healthy sometimes refers to recovery from sickness
- often “health” expresses a wish for someone’s well-being
- synonyms: wellness, healthful, able-bodied, mentally vigorous, or positive attitude
Do not some of these very terms and phrases help us to understand some of the most obvious ways “health” may be applied to the well-being of a congregation?
Church Health: Resources to Come
Since this article serves primarily as an introduction to this category in the Servant Leaders Library, let me project some of the resources to be posted in the days to come; these are examples, some of which are already prepared:
- Church Health: Its Definitions and Descriptions
- Church Health: Checkup, Assessment, and Profile
- An Early Century Church Health Profile (Revelation, chapters 2 and 3)
- The Ephesian Model: Health as Unity in the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:1-16)
- Wholeness among the Members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31)
- Balance and Priority: Health in the Functions of the Church
- Healthy Congregational Systems: Internal and External
- Servant Leadership for Congregational Health
- The Servant Church: Sizes, Structures, and Models
- Church Membership and Belonging: A Bell Curve Model
- Insights from Church Health Research and Publications
- When Denominations Focus on Congregational Health
Church health will also be noted in a large number of other topics in the Library. Health and healing for the congregation and its members is primarily a spiritual matter, but not apart from the healing, life-giving purpose of Christ. We need the Savior for us all, wherever we are in the journey: Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted by
Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership