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Thom Rainer: 12 Healthy Church Trends

9. There is clarity of the process of disciple making. 

Such was the theme of the book, Simple Church, written by Eric Geiger and me. For the healthy churches, the ministries and activities are not just busy work; instead, they have a clear purpose toward moving the members to greater levels of commitment toward Christ.

10. These churches do fewer ministries but do them better. 

They realize that they can’t be all things to all people and that they shouldn’t have such a flurry of activities that they hurt rather than help families. So the leaders of these congregations focus on doing fewer ministries but doing those few better than they could with an overabundance of activities.

11. The process of discipleship moves members into ongoing small groups. 

A member is almost guaranteed to leave the church or become inactive in the church if he or she does not get involved in an ongoing small group. These groups have a variety of names: Sunday school, small groups, home groups, life groups, cell groups, and others. The name is not the issue. The issue is getting members connected to ongoing groups.

12. Corporate prayer is intentional and prioritized.

Prayer is not incidental in these churches. The leadership regularly emphasizes the importance and priority of prayer. The congregation is led regularly in times of corporate prayer.

I realize that many churches, particularly Western churches, are struggling. But I am keenly aware that God is doing a great work in many congregations. Though my “12 in 12” list is neither inerrant nor comprehensive, just noting these trends gives me great hope. God is not yet done with our churches.

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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.