For the past several years, I’ve been a part of a team that crisscrosses the nation to work with local churches–hundreds of them. At the same time, I spend a chunk of my summers poring over church attendance and ministry data, identifying metrics to measure health and real effectiveness, and looking for clues to what can drive the oft-elusive, but greatly-prioritized goal of growth.
Now, be assured that long ago I set aside the idea that health and growth are twin sisters, seemingly always together (and often dressed alike). There’s ample evidence proving that health and growth aren’t that close–maybe they’re cousins who see each other a few times a year, but can otherwise live two very different lives. There are many growing churches that aren’t healthy. We should get that fairly easily since no one argues that the biggest people are the healthiest!
But the reverse is also true, though harder for us to grasp. There are, in fact, healthy churches that aren’t growing numerically. We struggle here since we believe that healthy things grow naturally, but we must keep in mind that growth can occur in ways other than attendance. Anyway…that’s for another day and time (and blog entry).
Amidst all this study, one thing we have learned for certain is that declining churches consistently prove to be inward-focused churches. In fact, growing churches that are about to plateau often do so because inward focus has taken root within. When we lose track of the “other-focus” of Jesus’ ideal, we give into our personal consumerism and soon the unhealthy symptoms begin.
So how do you know if your local church is inward focused? Watch for these signs:
If any of these (or even several) sound familiar, you’re local church may be on an unhealthy path. Christ designed His Church to be about “Him and Them.” When we are about “Him” in worship and “Them” in ministry, then He takes care of us. And only then can we be the healthy church He longs to establish in our community.
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The Acts 2 Church Survey is a fully validated church health survey for Spirit-Empowered local churches. Focusing on twelve church health factors, the survey can help you to identify your church’s strengths and challenges in order to pursue the best paths to greater ministry effectiveness.