What makes a healthy church?

If you were to read any number of books on what makes a healthy church, you would see there are essentially 5-10 character qualities growing and thriving churches emphasize as a part of their mission, vision, values, and strategy.  Things like:

  • Worship – that is biblical, united, and passionate in corporate celebration.
  • True spirituality – that goes beyond worship on Sundays to bring about a worshipful lifestyle, dependent on the Holy Spirit moment-by-moment.
  • Leadership development – that guides individuals and the church at large to follow the Scriptures and which empowers people to lead and work within their gifting and passion.
  • Effective organizational structures – that increase good communication and cooperation between various ministries in the church to further the goal of making disciples who make disciples.
  • Loving relationships – that are authentic and community oriented while being welcoming to new comers and outsiders.
  • Gift-oriented ministry – making sure everyone knows their spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and personality make-up so that congregants are utilizing their spiritual gifts to their full potential for the benefit of building up the body of Christ.
  • Holistic small groups – ones that are focused on learning to apply the Word of God in a small group community, which involves everyone being a minister to one another and everyone being a missionary together with one another.
  • Disciple making – a disciple making church is an evangelistic church, which takes converts they have been working on and makes them into disciples.

This last one is what I want to focus on for the remainder of this blog.

Why?

Because recently our church selected 30 leaders to take the Natural Church Development survey to determine: (1) if we are a healthy, growing church; (2) where we are strong; and (3) where we can improve to become even healthier and continue to grow spiritually and numerically.

The results were what we are a loving church, we have effective structures, people are working within their gifting, and our Home Communities feel like loving, caring groups.  But we struggle in worship and evangelism.  One of the reasons we hired Pastor Daniel was to help us in the area of worship, and he is doing a great job.  And I am seeking to improve my communication skills to make the word more practical and inspiring.

But what about evangelism? Why is it we are struggling to be an evangelistic church? What can we do to become more evangelistic? What is evangelism? Whose job is it to evangelize? The preacher? Or you?

I think one of the reasons Christians struggle to evangelize is because it is scary. Our hearts start to beat when we have the opportunity to share the gospel.  This happens, usually, because we have had bad experiences evangelizing, feeling like it was more of a confrontation than sharing God’s love.  Perhaps we think evangelism is supposed to be cold calls, or street evangelism, or door-to-door proselytizing.

But what really is evangelism? And how do you do it?

Evangelism is sharing the story of God from the perspective of the Bible and giving the person an opportunity to respond to the sharing of the gospel (gospel = good news = evangelism). If you read the book of Acts you will see multiple ways in which Christians shared the good news of Jesus Christ as they evangelized.  Acts 7 and 17 are two very different examples:

  • Acts 7 is an example of evangelism to people who know a lot about the Bible and need you to give them an overview of the Bible and show how Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy (crucified and raised) and their only hope of eternal salvation.
  • Acts 17 is an example of evangelism to people who don’t know anything about the Bible.  This is more of an apologetic discussion in which you need to know their perspective and how to bridge what they know to some aspect of the gospel so that their interest is piqued.

If you want to learn how to evangelize, read and study Acts 7 comparing this to Acts 17 to learn how to evangelize.  (Also, I will be teaching a School of Theology class on evangelism starting January 11th, at 9:00am, room 129).

Why should you learn to do this? Why not just depend on the preacher?

You should learn to evangelize because this is the calling of every Christian. Notice in the following verses that Jesus calls His disciples to make disciples who make disciples.  How can they make disciples if they do not first evangelize? If Jesus meant, “Go disciple those who have already accepted Christ…” then the message of Christ crucified, Christ raised would have ended with the immediate followers of Jesus.  But Jesus didn’t say, “Make disciples of those who already believe.”  He said…

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Why not just depend on the preacher? I kinda already explained this above, but take a look at Peter’s words below:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The preaching of the gospel was never meant to be a one-trick-pony-show. Evangelism and the making of disciples was never meant to be the job of only the preacher / priest / minister / pastor.

Bad gospel DNA neuters the voice of you, the church, by saying it is the role of the preacher (or evangelism pastor) to evangelize, and it is the role of everyone else to come and watch him evangelize. But good gospel DNA challenges everyone to be “a royal priesthood” – AKA, The Priesthood of the Believer.  Satan doesn’t want me to tell you this.  Satan doesn’t want you to read this and internalize this.  Satan wants to distract you from this message because he wants to ensure he will have a following.  Satan doesn’t want Jesus to be worshipped out of spite.

But the good news (gospel = evangelism) is, Jesus defeated Satan by the cross and resurrection, therefore Satan has no power over you whatsoever!!!

May we rise above the distraction of Satan and fulfill our calling, finding our purpose, and enjoying each other and the LORD in the process. God made you for a purpose.  And He made you with a unique gifting, skill set, and abilities to be able to evangelize in your unique way.  And when you find what that is, you will feel the pleasure of living for the purpose of the LORD:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” – Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

GODSPEED

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