By Mickey Mallory
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).
According to this text, God wants His people to be healthy. While we have traditionally applied this counsel to an individual person, one can argue that the same wish would also be applicable to a church congregation. In other words, God wants every congregation to be healthy. While that sounds good, what does it really mean? What does a healthy congregation really look like?
At the last RMC Ministerial Retreat, the pastors of our conference were asked that same question and below are their top ten characteristics of a healthy church:
1. Praying Church
2. Holy Spirit-Driven
5. Theologically Sound
7. Healthy Leadership/Pastor
If you use this list as an indicator of the current health of your church, how would you rate your church? Healthy or not so healthy? What might a visitor say?
A number of years ago I became acquainted with what I considered to be a very healthy church. They met all the above criteria of what the RMC pastors said a healthy church should be. I was especially impressed by how well they treated a rebellious teenager who demonstrated no real interest in being at church on Sabbath morning. The only reason he attended was to please his mother.
The members of this church began to reach out to this young man. They would go out of their way to make him feel welcomed. You could tell they genuinely loved this young man even with all of his baggage. They even went to the point of inviting him to help with the service. Wow! They had no problem with a young person helping.
The pastor of the church was theologically sound. He would preach Spirit-filled, biblically-based, relevant sermons. One Sabbath he was preaching on the love of Christ and this really touched the young man’s heart—so much that he wanted to surrender his life to Jesus. Eventually, the pastor found out about this and prepared the young man for baptism. The day of his baptism was a special day. Many of the church members were there to show their support. They had prayed for this young man and for this day and now it was time to celebrate.
Believe it or not, shortly after his baptism, the young man went off to school to study to be a pastor. And today he is helping others find the Jesus that he found.
Sound too good to be true? Think again. I know this story very well. That young man was me. God used a healthy church family to help me find spiritual health. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to work? You reproduce who you are.
—Mickey Mallory is RMC ministerial director. Email him at: [email protected]