As plateaued or dying churches accept their diagnosis and enter a revitalization process, they need indicators to measure improvement along the way, or to know when they are in fact a healthy, revitalized church. In other words, how do churches know when they are no longer unhealthy and are revitalized?
A church can answer the question by understanding its mission. A mission tells the church what it should be doing. Jesus commissioned His church to make disciples or followers of Jesus. Baptize, teach and go, the three participles of the Great Commission, help the church understand the how to the what. Jesus gave a mission, but then also gave leadership to His church to lead them on their mission.
Revitalizing a church is a journey, but it’s often difficult to know when you have arrived. In my own experience, I have learned that it is important to have some markers along the journey that indicate that I am still leading us on the right road. Here are five basic indicators, or road signs, that a church is on the road to health:
- The church is baptizing.
A healthy church should be evangelistic. A regular, earnest desire and effort to see lost people come to believe in Christ is a good indication that the church is getting healthy. Have we emphasized belief? Our desire is to see people believe the gospel of Jesus.
- The church is teaching.
Once baptized, Jesus instructs the church to teach new converts all that He has commanded. Healthy churches should be teaching new believers how to become like Christ. Through small groups or classes and one-on-one relationships, the church should be following a plan to teach people to follow Christ. We want to see people become like Jesus.
- The church is going.
The third participle in the Great Commission is the first word, “go.” A healthy, revitalized church will be baptizing and teaching as they are going. The congregation will be actively engaging in their witness for Christ wherever they go, whether their neighborhood, their workplace or to the ends of the earth. We want to see people be sent on the mission of Jesus.
- The leader is leading.
A healthy church will be a pastor-led congregation. If any group in the church is leading the church or attempting to lead the pastor or pastors, then the church is still in a steep decline. Pastors are tasked with caring for and providing oversight to the flock. Sheep shouldn’t lead shepherds. Pastors should lead the flock to baptize, to teach and to go.
- The pulpit is exposing.
A healthy church will have a pulpit ministry that is expositional and Christ-centered. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. Paul’s instructions to Timothy are a crucial component of church revitalization, “Preach the word.” A pulpit that fails to expose the word and point to Christ is a pulpit that fails.
In the first two years of a new ministry opportunity, I have sought to use these five indicators as a gauge to measure our church’s health. Through pastoral leadership and an expository pulpit ministry, North Albemarle Baptist Church is on route to seeing people in Albemarle and Stanly County believe the gospel of Jesus, become like Jesus, and be sent on the mission of Jesus.
by Jonathan Blaylock / Pastor / North Albemarle Baptist Church