When Terrie and I came to Lancaster in the summer of 1986, our goal was not to build a large church but a healthy church, and to to reach people for Christ. Over the past 32 years, the Lord has done more than we ever could have dreamed, and we praise Him for that.
But our goal has not changed. We still want to reach people for Christ and to invest ourselves in Christ’s church.
I often remind our church family that the Lord is more concerned with the health of our church than its size.
A healthy church is not simply a church wrapped up in continual introspection and self-purification. It is a church wholly in love with Christ and fully committed to His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20). It isn’t a church where members are consumed with their own feelings and preferences, but a church where members are growing individually and as a church family.
What is a healthy church?
Obedience to the Lord is more important than the exercise of religious ceremony. It doesn’t matter how we feel about our church or our worship if we are not obeying the Lord.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?—Luke 6:46
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: herby know we that we are in him.—1 John 2:5
A healthy church isn’t wrapped up in preoccupation over its merit or worthiness. It is filled with members who willingly serve the Lord and one another.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.—Philippians 2:3–4
Biblical love is not an emotion; it is an act of sacrifice. Love is meeting needs of others.
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.—1 John 3:16–18
4. A Servant’s Heart
From the earliest days of the local church, there have been opportunities to serve others. (See Acts 6.) Sometimes people new to a church look at all that is already taking place and think that they are not needed. The truth is that every church has needs and that when God adds someone to the church, He is fitting them into a body that He knows needs them. When each member cultivates their spiritual gifts and grows in service, they add to the health of the church body.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.—Romans 12:4–5