When I start coaching and consulting with churches, there are several common refrains I hear. The most frequent feedback, though, sounds something like this: “I appreciate that your team is helping us be the church God wants us to be and not some other church.”
Since I’m naturally a facilitator rather than a dictator of change, that doesn’t surprise me. From their perspective, though, I’m assuming this has to do with their knowledge that I’ve been on staff at a few great churches. They think I may have a one-size-fits-all strategy based on those experiences that I’m going to expect their church will embrace.
Now, to be clear, I do think there are some non-negotiables. After spending over 15 years working in and with churches, I’ve learned there are several foundational building blocks that healthy churches address. As examples:
1. Healthy churches have a clear mission and vision. Most important, that’s coupled with a clear action plan to see the mission and vision accomplished.
2. Healthy churches have a concise discipleship strategy to help people become fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
3. Healthy churches streamline their structure and governance to facilitate ministry.
4. Healthy churches are outward-focused—they’re trying to reach people outside the church and outside the faith.
5. Healthy churches make leadership a priority getting spiritually-gifted people in leadership roles within the ministry…including the role of senior pastor.
Healthy churches come in all shapes and sizes as long as the foundational building blocks are in place. There are small churches and large churches. There are churches of every denomination. There are rural churches and urban churches. There are churches with traditional worship and modern worship.
The key, though, is that you can’t just shift the methods and expect to become a healthy church. There are no shortcuts. In fact, the “right” methods with the “wrong” foundation is a guarantee for division in the church. You can’t get from here to there by tweaking the music, adjusting service times or adding or subtracting a ministry program.
For those of you who are in churches that are stuck, I hope this gives you hope. You don’t have to become the church down the street. You don’t have to become the church that the conference speaker leads. You don’t have to become the church led by the author of that hot new book.
You have to become the church that God designed your church to be. Are you willing to become that church?