[Column] Characteristics of a Healthy Church

Characteristics of a Healthy Church

Written By Rev.Dr. Joshua Hong

Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Church of Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

Sometime ago I visited a museum of the human body and saw two lungs. One was a healthy organ with white hue and the other was a black, diseased, and cigarette smoke-absorbed organ. This simple observation caused me to realize the need for healthy body. Because the human body is organic, its well-being is dependent upon the health of all body parts. The Bible refers to church as the organic body of Christ. That means church can be either healthy or diseased. What is a healthy church? Ephesians 4:11-12 describes it as, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Based on these verses, I would like to present four characteristics of a healthy church.

First, it is that which has Christ as its head. Ephesians 4:12 speaks of the body of Christ. This demonstrates that Christ is the head of church. Just as man cannot live without the head, church cannot live without Christ. In some churches, senior pastors, elders, or founding members usurp the headship of Christ. Such organizations undergo division and conflict and soon become mired in serious problems as they succumb to the Satan. A healthy church is that which absolutely obeys Our Lord Jesus Christ at all levels from the laity to the pastors.

Second, it is a church with the right leadership. Ephesians 4:11 mentions “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.” This signifies the titles, gifts, and functions of church leadership. The leadership of church lies not in position but in function. A titular leader without character or qualifications brings desolation to everyone. The most important function of church leadership is to equip the laity for service to church and others and to build a mature community.

Third, a healthy church is the community of gifts. Ephesians 4:12 mentions the work of the ministry. After graduation from college, I worked for an organization called Life Insurance Association. There, I witnessed the employees work according to given tasks. Because a business exists to serve society and to make profit, it does not just loosen up its employees. Ironically the church, which exists to fulfill the responsibility of salvation of souls, has far too many members who do not assume their obligations. Many of the faithful merely attend church services. The church where pastors alone are busy does not grow. A healthy church is the church where all of its members serve according to their gifts.

Lastly, a healthy church is where the body is edified. Edification of the body in verse 12 means qualitative and quantitative growth. Quantitative growth signifies the return of a soul, which is more important than the whole world, to Christ. However it must not be the only means of growth. There must be qualitative growth, in which the faithful grow spiritually (Hebrew 5:12). It is as equally important to raise children as to give birth to them. Quantitative and qualitative growth is not a matter of choice but of requirement. As the pioneer of church growth movement Donald McGavran stated, church growth is “evangelism plus effective nurturing.”

Obedience to Christ, functional leadership, a community of the laity based on their spiritual gifts, and the fruits of growth are the essential characteristics of a healthy church.  Is your church or organization healthy according to God’s standard?

2 Comments

  1. Searching for this for some time now – i guess luck is more advanced than search engines 🙂

  2. Thank you, Nyan..Every luck is also from God^^

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