Top 10 Signs of a Healthy Church: How to Build One

In this guide, we'll walk through the top ten signs of a healthy church and provide insights on how to cultivate these qualities in your own congregations.

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The sign outside the church might read 'Welcome,' but how do you know when a church is truly alive and thriving? Church attendance statistics alone can’t tell you if a church is healthy. 

A healthy church is not just a building, leadership structure, or weekly service. A healthy church is a vibrant community where God is present and members grow in their faith and service.

In this guide, we'll walk through the top ten signs of a healthy church and provide insights on how to cultivate these qualities in your own congregations.

Whether you're a church leader seeking to invigorate your community or a member eager to play a part in the church's vitality, these signs will serve as a touchstone for spiritual health and growth.

1. A Church with a Christ-Centered Focus

The first sign of a healthy church is that they keep Christ at the center of all their activities. This is not just a platitude but a practice that permeates every aspect of church life. The teachings and sermons should explicitly point to Jesus Christ, His teachings, and His redemptive work on the cross.

The liturgy and rituals should have Christ as their core, not mere traditions. The leadership should exemplify Christlikeness and continuously seek His direction in decision-making. Church activities should point to Christ whenever possible.

In John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing." A healthy church understands that everything they do is through Christ and for His glory. If a church does not have Christ at the center, it's not a healthy church.

So how do you keep Christ at the center of your church? Some possible ways include:

First, regularly review sermons and teachings to ensure that they consistently point to Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection. If churches aren't careful, they can become mere dispensers of moral advice. This shouldn't be the case. Everything taught and said in a church should point back to Christ in some way.

Additionally, encourage a culture where Jesus's life is emulated through love, service, and humility. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." A healthy church should reflect this servant-heartedness in all its activities.

Furthermore, ensure that the leadership is committed to modeling Christlikeness and seeking His guidance in decision-making. This means continuously seeking God's will through prayer and studying His Word. It also means prioritizing the leading of the Holy Spirit in all aspects of church leadership.

Finally, make sure that all church activities are centered around glorifying God and pointing others to Christ. This includes outreach and evangelism efforts, discipleship programs, and even social events. A healthy church understands that everything they do should be a reflection of Jesus's love and grace.

2. Intentional Biblical Teaching

A church that stands on the solid foundation of the Bible is on the right path to health. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus compares a wise man who builds his house on a rock to one who builds on sand. The rock represents the solid foundation of God's Word, while the sand represents anything else that we may try to build our church on. 

Before any other church growth strategies, a healthy church is built upon the solid rock of God's word. Trying to build a church on anything else is like laying a foundation on sinking sand.

Teachings and sermons should be rooted in scripture, providing members with a clear understanding of biblical truths that can be applied to their daily lives. Bible study groups, Sunday school, and educational programs should be nurtured to cultivate a deep love and respect for God's Word.

In Hebrews 4:12 it says, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

The Bible is a powerful tool that can transform lives when it is taught intentionally and accurately. A healthy church recognizes this power and prioritizes biblical teaching in all aspects of its ministry.

How do you root your church in the Bible? Some practical ways include:

First, invest in the training of pastors and teachers to enhance their understanding of scripture. This could be in the form of seminary training, Bible study courses, or mentorship programs.

Additionally, encourage personal Bible study and discipleship among members. Provide resources such as devotionals, reading plans, and small group studies to help members grow in their understanding of God's Word.

Also, hold regular seminars or workshops on topics related to biblical principles and teachings. This can also be an opportunity for members to ask questions and engage in discussions about the Word of God.

Moreover, incorporate scripture into worship services, prayer meetings, and other church gatherings. This can be done through reading of passages, sermons based on biblical texts, and incorporating worship songs with lyrics rooted in Scripture.

3. Spirit-Empowered Worship

In a healthy church, worship is more than a Sunday ritual—it's a Spirit-filled encounter with God. The congregation is led in a way that invites the presence of the Holy Spirit, with music and lyrics that elevate and focus the hearts of worshippers. There's a freedom to express love for God through various forms of worship, which can include singing, raising hands, prayer, and quiet reflection.

In Psalm 22:3 it says, "But you are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel." When we lift up our voices and hearts in worship, we welcome God's presence to dwell among us. A healthy church recognizes the importance of this and seeks to create an atmosphere conducive to Spirit-empowered worship.

How can a church cultivate Spirit-empowered worship? Here are some ideas:

First, prioritize prayer and seek God's direction for worship services. The Holy Spirit is the one who leads and guides us in our worship, so it's important to be sensitive to His leading.

Second, choose songs that are scripturally sound and have a focus on glorifying God rather than self. This will help keep the focus on Him during the worship time.

Finally, create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their love for God in different ways. Some may prefer to sing loudly, while others may choose to quietly reflect during worship. Encourage diversity and freedom of expression.

4. Strong, Accountable Leadership

Healthy churches are undergirded by strong, humble, and accountable leaders. These leaders are not just those with titles but are those who shepherd with wisdom and grace. They bear the burden of the church community, ensuring that they are growing spiritually and are being good stewards of their resources.

In 1 Peter 5:2-3, Peter exhorts church leaders to "shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock."

Strong and accountable leaders prioritize serving and caring for the needs of their congregation above their own personal gain. They also hold themselves to a high standard of integrity and accountability, recognizing that they are accountable to God and His people for their actions.

How do you implement strong, accountable leadership in your church?

Healthy churches have a system in place for holding leaders accountable. This can include regular evaluations, mentoring programs, and open communication between leaders and members of the congregation. By having accountability measures in place, leaders are reminded to stay humble, seek wisdom and guidance from others, and continuously grow in their leadership roles.

Additionally, healthy churches have a culture of transparency and open communication. Leaders should be approachable and willing to listen to concerns or feedback from their congregation. This creates a sense of trust and fosters a healthy relationship between leaders and the church community.

Finally, strong churches foster an environment where leadership is seen as a calling to serve, not a position of power. Healthy leaders recognize that it is their privilege to lead.

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5. Authentic Community

A healthy church feels like a second home, a place where you belong. Members of the congregation genuinely care for one another, form deep connections, and are willing to support each other through all life's challenges.

In Galatians 6:2, it says "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." This verse highlights the importance of community and supporting one another. In healthy churches, no one walks alone. Each person is vitally connected to the rest of the congregation.

How do churches foster authentic community?

First, through small groups or Bible studies, where members can gather in a more intimate setting to share their lives and grow together in faith. These groups provide a safe space for members to open up and build deeper connections with one another.

Second, through regular fellowship events and activities. Whether it's potlucks, game nights, or service projects, these gatherings allow members to get to know each other outside of Sunday services and strengthen their bonds as a community.

Finally, church leaders must set the example when it comes to authenticity. When leaders are open, vulnerable, and genuine with their congregation, members are more likely to follow suit and create a culture of authenticity within the church.

6. Genuine Discipleship

A healthy church is committed to the growth of its members. Discipleship is not just a course to check off a list but a lifelong process of personally knowing Christ and making Him known. The church is not only called to gather people. It is also called to make disciples out of them.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commands his disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This is not just a suggestion but a clear instruction for the church to follow.

Discipleship is a journey of intentional growth in our relationship with God and others. It involves learning from His Word, developing spiritual disciplines, and being mentored by more mature believers.

A healthy church provides opportunities for members to engage in discipleship through Bible studies, discipleship courses, and mentoring relationships.

Additionally, healthy churches appoint and train mature believers to be mentors for those seeking deeper growth. These mentors not only provide guidance but also serve as accountability partners and encouragers in the journey of discipleship.

What's more, robust churches challenge their members to not only grow personally but also to reach out and make disciples of others. This includes being intentional in sharing the Gospel, inviting people to church, and walking alongside new believers as they begin their own journey of discipleship.

7. Outward Focus and Evangelism

A church with a heartbeat for the lost is a thriving one. Healthy churches don't exist for themselves but for the sake of those who have not yet heard the good news. Their members are engaged in local and global missions, outreach programs, and personal evangelism efforts.

Furthermore, healthy churches have a culture of inviting and welcoming new people. This creates an atmosphere where seekers feel comfortable and accepted, making it easier for them to receive the Gospel message.

As disciples of Christ, we are called to be salt and light in the world, shining His love and truth wherever we go. A church that embraces this calling is one that will continue to grow and impact its community for the Kingdom of God.

Some ways to encourage evangelism in your church include:

Regularly host and participate in outreach events that connect with the community's needs. This can include service projects, free clinics, and community meals.

Equip and train members to confidently share their faith with others through evangelism classes or small group studies.

Provide opportunities for members to use their unique gifts and talents in mission trips or local outreach programs.

Encourage a culture of invitation by setting goals for each member to bring someone new to church regularly.

Through these efforts, your church can become a beacon of hope for the lost and bring them into a life-changing relationship with Christ.

8. A Servant Mentality

In a healthy church, members understand that their faith is often best expressed through service to others. They are not passive spectators but active participants in God's redemptive work. An attitude of humility and willingness to serve is evident in all aspects of church life, from greeting at the door to leadership roles.

As followers of Christ, we are called to follow His example of selfless service and sacrificial love. This means putting others before ourselves and using our time, talents, and resources to bless those in need. 

In Philippians 2:3-4, we are reminded to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

This mentality not only strengthens relationships within the church but also serves as a powerful witness to those outside. When people see a community that genuinely cares for one another and serves the needs of others, they are drawn to the love and grace of Christ.

One way to foster a servant mentality in your church is to provide opportunities for members to serve within and beyond the church. This could include volunteer projects in the community, mission trips, or partnering with local organizations. Encourage members to use their unique gifts and abilities for God's kingdom and celebrate their contributions.

As a church leader, be intentional about modeling servant leadership and promoting a culture of service within your congregation. Encourage others to follow your example and remind them that serving is not only an act of obedience but also a joy and privilege.

Also, it's important to regularly teach on the biblical call to serve. Serving does not come naturally to us. In a healthy church, leaders regularly remind members of the importance of serving. This can be done through sermons, small group discussions, or even dedicated classes on serving.

9. Financial Stewardship and Integrity

Churches that are financially healthy and transparent instill trust among their members. They handle money with integrity and are accountable for the resources entrusted to them. Financial stewardship is not only about sustaining the church but also supporting missions, community needs, and other important causes.

It's essential to have proper financial systems in place and regularly report on the church's finances. This can help build trust and transparency within the congregation. Encourage members to give with joyful hearts, understanding that their contributions are making an impact for God's kingdom.

In addition to being good stewards of financial resources, it's also important to teach on biblical principles of money management and generosity. This can help cultivate a culture of wise financial decision-making and generous giving within the church community.

Also, it's critical that the church's financial decisions be driven by its mission and values. Healthy churches are thoughtful about how they use the resources God has given them. They prioritize investing in impactful ministry and making a positive difference in the world.

10. An Inclusive and Diverse Church

Finally, a healthy church celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of each member. It is inclusive and welcoming to people of different backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. It rejects division and seeks unity in Christ, thereby providing a glimpse of the kingdom of God.

In John 17:21, Jesus prayed for his followers to be one, just as he and the Father are one. This unity is not about uniformity but embracing diversity and living in harmony with one another. A diverse church brings different perspectives, experiences, and gifts that can enrich the body of Christ.

Creating an inclusive and diverse church requires intentional effort from both leadership and members. Leaders must regularly preach and teach on the biblical mandate to love and respect all people. They should also actively seek out diverse voices and perspectives to be included in decision-making processes.

Members should strive to cultivate relationships with people from different backgrounds and cultures within the church. They can also participate in initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion within the church and wider community.

An inclusive and diverse church reflects the heart of God for all nations and peoples. It is a powerful testimony to the world of God's love and grace for all.

Toward Building A Healthy Church

A healthy church is a vibrant, engaged community where the love of Christ is evident in everything they do. It's built on the foundation of the Bible, sustained by a commitment to discipleship and service, and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Cultivating these signs of health is a continuous effort that requires the participation of every member, in partnership with the leadership, to create a church community that transforms lives and glorifies God.

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