Church Growth Is OK, But Church Health Is What Matters

In architecture, structures must be balanced. If the stress isn’t balanced, a building will collapse or a bridge will fall through. There must be equilibrium. If your life is not balanced, you might collapse, and if your congregation is not balanced, it might collapse. As pastors and counselors we must realize that healing is the recovery of balance to the body, soul and congregation.

Healthy, lasting church growth is multi-dimensional. I’ve written extensively on the fact that church health has five facets: Every church needs to grow…

These five purposes of the church are commanded by Jesus in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, explained by Paul in Ephesians 4, described in Jesus’ prayer for the church in John 17, and modeled by the first church in Jerusalem.

In Acts 2:42-47 these five facets of health are mentioned: They fellowshipped, edified each other, worshipped, ministered and evangelized. As a result, verse 47 says, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Church growth is the natural result of church health. But church health can only occur when our message is biblical and our mission is balanced. Each of the five New Testament purposes of the church must be in equilibrium with the others for health to occur.

Now this is important: Because we are imperfect beings, balance in a church does not occur naturally: In fact, we must continually correct imbalance! It’s human nature to overemphasize the aspect or purpose of the church we feel most passionate about.

Most evangelical churches already do the five purposes of the church—sort of.

But they don’t do them all equally well. One church may be strong in fellowship, yet weak in evangelism. Another may be strong in worship, yet weak in discipleship. Still another may be strong in evangelism, yet weak in ministry.

Why is this? It’s the natural tendency of leaders to emphasize what they feel strongly about and neglect whatever they feel less passionate about. Around the world you can find churches that have become the extension of their pastor’s giftedness. They focus only on what he cares about most.

Unless you set up a system and structure to intentionally balance the five purposes, your church will tend to overemphasize the purpose that best expresses the gifts and passion of its pastor.

Healthy churches are built on purpose! By focusing equally on all five of the New Testament purposes of the church, your church will develop the healthy balance that makes lasting growth possible.

This article originally appeared here.

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Rick Warren
Dr. Rick Warren is passionate about attacking what he calls the five “Global Goliaths” – spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy/poor education. His goal is a second Reformation by restoring responsibility in people, credibility in churches, and civility in culture. He is a pastor, global strategist, theologian, and philanthropist. He’s been often named "America's most influential spiritual leader" and “America’s Pastor.

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