How Healthy is Your Church? Three Easy Ways to Check
Just as a doctor looks at presenting symptoms to diagnose problems with the body, a pastor can look at a set of symptoms to diagnose problems with the spirit. Identifying these problems can help pastors and church leaders take steps to create a healthy church.
I have two young girls, and anytime they come home from church or school with a cough, sneeze, headache, or any other malady, my wife and I are on WebM.D. We put in a set of symptoms and get an instant diagnosis. The diagnosis may not be completely correct, but the information helps us determine how to keep them from getting worse and, most importantly, how to get them healthy.
There is no WebM.D. for a healthy church, but there are a few symptoms we can check to assess spiritual wellness:
- How often someone attends church
- If they are involved in ministry
- How they treat others in service
The last, and perhaps most revealing, factor of a healthy church is how they give.
These outward actions can reveal the intentions of the heart. Giving is not a simple financial decision. Finances are involved, but giving is an issue of the heart. Have we fully given our heart to God? Do we believe that everything comes from God? What financial struggles are impacting giving? Do we believe in the mission and vision of the church?
To assess if you have a sick or healthy church, here are three wellness checks to consider:
1. How many weeks a year do your church leaders preach about giving?
In many churches, the answer is zero. In many more, the answer is “as few as possible in order to meet budget.” Both attitudes say to the congregation that giving is only an operational concern and is not connected to the life of faith. Churches that preach and teach on giving as often as worship, discipleship, and service tell their congregants that giving is a vital part of what it means to follow Christ.
2. What percentage of church leaders make a financial contribution to the church?
I once worked with a church that looked healthy from the outside. However, as I dug deeper, I found that nearly half of elected leaders in the church didn’t give at all! If the leaders don’t see giving as important, the rest of the congregation won’t either. We decided to postpone the upcoming capital campaign and do some generosity education. The good news is we were able to address how important giving is to discipleship, and the church leaders began to give. The church went on to have a very successful campaign and continues to grow.
3. How important is stewardship to the church’s overall vision?
Giving should be treated with equal importance to worship, discipleship, and servant leadership. Is this true in your church or is generosity teaching an afterthought? Churches that communicate giving with the same strategic emphasis as they do worship, discipleship, and service don’t struggle with annual stewardship and budget.
Understanding medical symptoms leads to a diagnosis and restored health. Spiritual health and healing can also be restored if diagnosed and treated properly. Conduct these important checks to bring healing and wellness to your church.