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Thom Rainer: 7 Secrets of Healthy Churches

Secret #5:

Healthy churches emphasize corporate prayer and church prayer ministries. They do more than give lip service to the importance of prayer. My team and I once worked with a church of 250 that had someone praying in an intercessory prayer room every hour of every day. That means 168 members committed to pray in that room one hour every week. Since the leadership of the church began emphasizing prayer three years ago, attendance has more than doubled.


Another common element in healthy churches prayer ministries is that members pray for non-Christians by name. They are unashamed and unafraid to be vocal about the greatest need any person could have: salvation through Jesus Christ.


Secret #6:

Healthy churches take membership seriously. There seems to be two major trends away from responsible membership. The first and most common trend is to have inflated membership rolls that have little integrity. Church membership means little or nothing and has no level of accountability. The second trend is found in churches where the leaders do not believe that membership is an issue. A casual attendee has the same level of accountability as a long-term leader. These churches think the concept of membership is antiquated, if not unbiblical.


Secret #7:

Healthy churches are highly intentional about evangelism. They have ministries, programs, and emphases that lead members to reach out with the Gospel to their unchurched friends, relatives, co-workers, and acquaintances. As a doctrinal note, the leaders in these churches believe in a literal hell. Their evangelism is thus motivated not only by the good news of the Gospel, but the bad news of rejecting the Gospel.

Has your church had a health exam lately? How would it fare in your honest assessment of the seven secrets you just read? As a whole, the American Church is not healthy. May God provide your church with all she needs to be effective and healthy for God’s glory. And may you hear these words of encouragement: “Everything looks good.”


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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.