3 Defining Words–(Some) Characteristics of a Healthy Church Part 1

OK, this is going to be a little risky.  Anytime you start talking about characteristics of a healthy church or church values, there is always one more.  There is one that is the “most important” and “I can’t believe you left that one out.”  Then the discussion gets hijacked.  So here is what I would like to do.  I would like to start with a basic definition of what makes a church and then talk about some specific characteristics of what I believe make a healthy church.  Ok? Ok.

A church:

1. Primarily exists to bring honor and worship to God and secondarily to love people (the great commandment)

2. Believes that the Bible is God’s word

3. Trusts in Jesus alone for hope, life and salvation

4. Depends completely on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide and bless

5. (That one thing that’s really important to you that I forgot)

I know that not all churches hold to those, but these are what make a church, evangelical if we must have a category.  Go to 100 churches in 100 weeks and 90+ of them will believe and value those.  Yet some churches are growing and healthy and others struggle.  There are a lot of different ways to do church, different programs, leadership styles, etc., and many (most, all?) of those can be very effective.  However they can all be quite ineffective as well. 

After a less than great experience at a church in St. Louis, an amazing experience in Cabot, and talking, interacting and learning from some of the top church planters around, I have come to believe that there are certain characteristics of churches that make churches grow, be healthy and thrive.  To repeat the disclaimer, this is not an exhaustive list.  These are simply three that echo loudly in my mind.  We will tackle them one at a time.


Great churches love people.  They especially love people who are brand new.  They mostest especialliest love people who are new and far from God.  When new people walk in, that church very quickly does everything that they can to make that person not feel new.  The church lets them know that they are wanted and are invited to be a part of that family.  There are no strangers, no outsiders, no lonely people at this church.

How do you know if your church is friendly?

1. The members leave the best parking spaces for new people.

2. New people have been greeted, welcomed, shown around, multiple times before the service starts.

3. You have a hard time starting on time because people won’t stop talking in the cafe, lobby, back of the worship center, etc.

4. The “meet and greet” just won’t end.

5. The person that has to lock up the building never gets to eat lunch at a reasonable time.

6. Everyone, not just the greeters and ushers, welcomes and meets new people.

7. New people come back.

It is troubling the number of churches that say they want to grow but seem to resent at worst,and are  indifferent at best to new people.  But not your church.  Your church loves people.  It greets everyone.  It creates a welcoming environment for everyone, visits people in the hospital, surrounds people that are hurting.  Your church loves people.  At least it can, starting now.


One Response to “3 Defining Words–(Some) Characteristics of a Healthy Church Part 1”
  1. nardo says:

    Good post, have you heard of 9 marks ministry?


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