Elsie and I have been in full or part-time Christian ministry for 42 years, 33 of which were in the pastorate. We have pastored congregations in Illinois, California, and Minnesota. We have attended more churches than we can count and been members of seven. We are pretty familiar with the inner workings of the Bride of Christ. Based on that backdrop of experience, I would like to humbly submit a list of the marks of a healthy church. How healthy is your church? “It’s pretty healthy,” you say. How would you know? Are there any tangible, practical ways to measure the health of a church? Sure. Here is a list of 12 marks of a healthy church compiled by Pastor Stephen Paul Goold and me back in 2002. We spoke at a Freedom in Christ workshop to pastors on the subject. See what you think.
12 Marks of a Healthy Church
Pastors Stephen Paul Goold, Irv Woolf
- Congregation worships with passion-even the men are singing and the preaching is biblical and passionate. The congregation takes notes.
- No financial indebtedness—all debts, including missionaries, are paid in full and there is a reserve account
- Caring and compassion within the congregation has increased spontaneously without a program
- Lifestyle evangelism and sharing of the faith has become the norm with non-Christians being saved regularly
- Prayer is passionate, focused, and intense both corporately and in small groups
- Peace has permeated the congregation—there is a "happy hum” in the foyer following the worship services as people linger to fellowship following the conclusion of the service.
- The elder leadership team truly leads and is not simply a “yes” board deferring to the pastor
- Power struggles within the congregation and staff are few and less toxic
- Increase in members desiring to serve in ministry both within the church and outside of the church
- Biblically-qualified men and women are coming forward and presenting themselves for positions of leadership
- There is a palpable unity of the Holy Spirit—we are all on the same page
- The spiritual leaders have the trust and respect of the congregation
13. Staff work together on ministries and don’t care who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory
The church is the Bride of Christ. She needs to be healthy to have the greatest impact on a lost world. May God give us healthy churches populated by healthy, joyful, obedient Christians.