In the 1990s, Peter Wagner published The Healthy Church, a book describing several diseases that churches sometimes exhibit. Some of his descriptions are quite helpful (e.g., koinonitis = excessive, inward fellowship), and the list itself challenges readers to come up with their own descriptions.
Here are 10 diseases I see as I consult with unhealthy churches around the country:
1. Community Disconnect Disease.
Churches with this disease meet within a given community, but they do not know that community. Often, church members drive to the church building, meet as “church” and then drive home—without ever taking note of a changing community around them.
In fact, I’ve seen church members with this disease lock their doors as they drive through the community where their congregation gathers.
2. Methodological Arthritis.
I give credit to my former student Kevin Minchey for naming this condition. The name says it all: This church is stuck in doing things the way they’ve always done them.
Change (that is, movement) is painful, and it’s seemingly easier not to take a step forward. What these churches often don’t recognize is that standing still is also risky.
Eventually, they will not move at all.
3. The “Grass Is Greener” Syndrome.
This syndrome is a malady of leaders who are always looking for the next church leadership position. They establish no roots, and their current congregation is only a stepping-stone to the next place. Because they are always looking elsewhere, they miss the present tense blessings of their ministry.
And, though leaders think otherwise, a church often recognizes when its leader has this syndrome.