Healthy Churches, whether they be traditional, simple, house or otherwise, that effectively propagate life in the lives of those they serve and share life with tend to share five basic traits: Family, Healing, Equipping, Cultivating Leaders and Mission. Balance in these areas will produce healthy balanced followers of Jesus; those who are maturing (self - governing, living their faith in all of life and sharing that life with other people. There are many creative and innovative ways of seeing these traits expressed but for our purposes here, the following is a basic explanation of each area:
Family - A sense of healthy community and connectedness is crucial. It is in the context of healthy community people learn to take responsibility for their own faith and actions, and also their responsibility within the community.
It is not realistic to assume a perfect harmonious unity on all things, however healthy unity in community should be founded upon Jesus. This is the common denominator for Christian community. It is in a larger context we learn to disagree and resolve conflict in authentic and healthy ways. It provides a context to learn to turn the other cheek, to forgive, go the extra mile and receive forgiveness from others.
Within the larger community, there needs to be the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with others in the community often this is in small groups. While we can create opportunities for this connection, they cannot be forced or arbitrary. By creating opportunities for and modeling meaningful micro-community we will see a deeper sense of connectedness and fidelity to the larger community and a more vibrant sense of unity.
Healing / Reconciliation / wholeness - Healthy, life giving churches provide meaningful opportunities for people to experience healing as a part of being in community. It is in community where we experience our "stuff" rubbing on other peoples "stuff" and healthy community can be a healthy context for each to address their "stuff". Healing can be as simple as acceptance within the community. Additional opportunities could be prayer ministry, mentoring, 12 steps and providing relational support, encouragement and avenues for counseling.
Helping people experience forgiveness through confidential, friend to friend confession can be very therapeutic and also open the door for them to choose to forgive others. For this to happen faith communities need to be safe places to be vulnerable. Willing to meet people where they are at in their pain and prayerfully patient to walk with them into greater wholeness.
Equipping - Discipleship is not a course in Church membership. While there may be a place for some of this, discipleship is about helping people cultivate a vibrant faith relationship with Jesus. This can be by helping people discover their “spiritual temperament” - how they best experience God. To introduce them to the Bible and provide them tools to learn healthy ways of reading and understanding the Bible. Finally helping them connect their faith to the real life they are living.
Healthy church leadership understands their role to equip the saints for the work of ministry is not only serving within the community but in all the places God has positioned them.
Cultivating Leaders - People are leading all the time - either well or not so well. Healthy faith communities are deliberate about cultivating leaders understanding that this is a healthy on-going part of discipleship. The cultivation of leaders is not the impartation of models and pithy sayings, rather the development of individual character and values upon which to build leadership principles. As with all aspects of healthy faith communities power is stewarded very carefully ensuring one never uses it to manipulate, shame or coerce those one is called to serve. If indeed the Kingdom is about love, leadership authority is always relational and not positional. Authority is always saturated by love and our methods, even if we think the end justifies the mean, will never violate the freedom of the individual nor will it usurp the persons own responsibility.
Mission - The healthy outworking of healthy faith always results in action. Healthy faith communities, equip and model mission as a part of the natural outworking of their personal lives. Love has feet! People should be equipped, encouraged and empowered to live their faith with integrity in every arena of their lives. Mission doesn’t have a box and is as unique and varied as each individual. Mission is not to get more people in your Church but is keenly focused on the Kingdom as a larger context. This may include foreign missions, mercy building projects, feeding the poor, social justice, serving the community we live in or hosting some friends for supper, showing compassion to someone we know who is hurting, etc. Mission can include prayer walks, intercession and more! Missional living is simply responding in concrete ways to what God is doing in your heart / life.
We help our clients explore each of these areas in their respective communities whether traditional forms of church or simple church / house church. Interested in learning more? Contact us here.