With our family of churches recently adopting the bold goal of growing to ‘1,000 healthy churches in a generation’, or the shortened version ‘Gen1K’, the inevitable question that arises is, ‘What does a Healthy Church look like?
There are also other questions that flow from that original question, such as: What criteria can be used to make such a judgement on a church’s health? Who will make such a judgement? Can any church really be said to be healthy when it is comprised of a mixture of healthy and unhealthy congregational members?
The members of the Ministry Support and Development Team (MSD) believe that to see if a church is either healthy or not, is too simplistic an approach. There is no simple descriptive statement, as health is not either/or but rather where a church lies along a spectrum of church health indicators.
We could use the analogy of mental health where people are not simply diagnosed as sane or insane. For example, a person could have an emotional outburst without it necessarily pointing to a state of mental ill health. However, if a number of other factors were also present, such as hearing voices in their head, feelings of paranoia, inability to sleep, anxiety attacks, maybe a judgement that the person was mentally unwell would be justified?
Similarly, MSD has developed ‘Nine Indicators of Church Health’ to help churches assess themselves as to their current state of health and hopefully to then develop some strategies to increase the general level of health. No church will score high on every indicator, but it may help to identify those areas where we are doing well and those areas that need particular attention. Those nine health indicators are:
- Clear Direction and Purpose
- Empowering Leadership
- Passionate Spirituality
- Authentic Communal Worship
- Effective Mission Shaped Focus
- Dynamic Caring Community
- Willing Service to One Another
- Serving Others Beyond the Church
- Functional Structures for the Size of the Church.
A resource expanding these nine categories is available from the MSD website along with a simple scoring tool for churches to use. In the following editions of Together in Ministry, there will be further explanations of these health indicators. We hope that these will help to facilitate and encourage greater health amongst existing churches.