Why Does Your Church Needs A Healthy Church Check-Up?
by Certified Consultant Dr. Michael L. Rackley
Have you ever had a runny nose, chills, fever, weakness in your body, and felt something just don’t feel quite, right? Due to those symptoms, you decided to see an expert like a doctor, who gives you a health check-up and he wants to know more about those symptoms. You talk and the doctor investigates those symptoms.
- What might be the cause here?
- Sometimes he/she must run more tests. Sometimes he/she must do more evaluations.
- The physician diagnoses before they prescribe.
- Sometimes he/she must bring in more experts to help understand what’s going on.
- The doctor goes through all that process, all that routine to help you become healthy again.
As a Church Consultant, I see a correlation between a regular health check-up and a healthy church check-up. Comparing both processes will clear up any ambiguities about the Church Consulting process for church leaders and the need for a healthy church check-up. In other words, if getting a regular check-up is important for the quality of life, living a healthy life, and longevity, how about the Body of Christ (the Church)?
Why should churches get a health check-up? When a church has symptoms like rapidly declining attendance, struggling finances, no vision, poor leadership, not making disciples, feeling stuck, ineffective discipleship, being inwardly focused, or the church doesn’t reflect its community— these symptoms can be indicators of an underlying or broader problem.
There are several ways to assess the church like the SWOT Method, Church Health Survey Report, demographic studies, Staff and Lay interviews, and many more.
For example, the Church Health Survey Report was developed by Dr. Rainer and Dr. Lawless, “to assess the condition of local congregations. A 160-question survey that focuses on the six purposes of the church, the questionnaire reveals a church’s perception of itself. The survey is now available from Church Answers.” The Church Health Survey is just one of many assessments used to evaluate churches.
The Church Health Survey “concerns itself with the health of a specific local church.” An example of a healthy church begins with the Apostle Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2:14-41, the Church grew instantly in Acts 2:41 to 3,000 people. In Acts 2:47 the bible says, “and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The early church can probably be considered the first Mega Church (Church of Jerusalem). Although most churches probably won’t grow to be three thousand, however, the core values or best practices of healthy growing churches are the same regardless of size and revealed in Acts 1:8, 2:41-47, Matthew 28:19 “Making Disciples, and more.” Many of these practices or functions of the Early Church in Acts 2, Eph. 4:11-13, 2 Corinthians, Daniel 9:18, 1 John 5:14, Psalms 34:15, Matthew 28:18-20 found below are used as a model for healthy churches in the Church Health Survey Assessment Process:
The Greek word “ἐκκλησία” ekklēsia, the church is referred to as an assembly of believers. The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the nature of the church: Salt and light Matt 5:13-16, a bride Ephesians 5:25-27, a family, a flock 1 Peter 5:1-2, a field of wheat, a mustard seed, and branches John 15 connected to a vine, and a body 1 Cor. 12:27. What do these metaphors have in common? They imply that the church is alive and well. The church is an organism that has an organization that consists of believers, structure, leadership, management, and programs, and more.
In closing, I list about nine diseases Dr. C. Peter Wagner describes in his book The Healthy Church that can afflict any church which results in many churches becoming stuck, plateauing, and declining.
- Ethnikitis (Ex-Neighborhood Church)
- Ghost Town Disease
- Sociological Strangulation
- Arrested Development
- John’s Syndrome
However, getting a healthy church check-up can lead possibly to prevention or revitalization that will ultimately bring glory to God and result in the church being edified, the community being changed and many people coming to Christ.