What are the best practices for cultivating a healthy church?  If I had to boil it down to 10 ways to improve the health of your church, these are the ones I would challenge you to consider.

  1. Thou shalt have fun as a congregation.  Surprised? It’s true. Churches that have fun together are less uptight. Unhealthy churches tend to be highly anxious environments.  Finding ways to have fun and genuinely enjoy being together as a congregation diminishes anxiety and builds relationships.
  2. Thou shalt not allow elephants in thy sanctuary.  (Or anywhere else in the building!) Cultivate an atmosphere where communication flows freely.  When there are “elephants in the room” i.e. things people don’t want to talk about, or, feel they cannot talk about safely, then you need to resolve the issues that hinder communication in your church.
  3. Thou shalt not sweep thy dirt under thy rug. Painful crises come into the life of every church.  How well you treat wounds or sin that impacts your body, may be the most important determiner of how healthy your church truly is.
  4. Thou shalt release thy expectations for what thy church should be.  Different leaders/members often have competing visions for the same church.  Sometimes our visions can even compete with the Lord’s vision for our church!  Not until we release our expectations will we be in a place to grasp His.
  5. Thou shalt not look to man, but learn to recognize and listen to Jesus’ voice as a Body.  It’s tempting to look to certain gifted leaders in our churches.  But all the gifted parts of your body need to be heard.  By listening to the Holy Spirit speak through the variously gifted parts of your body you begin to discern what Jesus is saying to your church as a whole.
  6. Thou shalt monitor thy church’s culture. Every church takes on a unique culture.  It flows from leadership and generally shapes how people relate to each other.  How would you describe the relational atmosphere of your church? How would you define the character of your church as a whole?
  7. Thou shalt identify and accomplish thy unique calling as a church.  A lack of mission/vision fulfillment is a symptom of an unhealthy church.  HOWEVER, there are usually things that need to be addressed or healed in such a church BEFORE missional objectives will gain traction.  Once underlying issues are resolved, you need to ask God to give you a clear sense of calling as a church and then pursue it!
  8. Thou shalt tangibly value thy leaders. Are you investing in the well-being of your leaders?  Beyond ministerial training, do you allocate dollars for their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health?  The health of your church starts with the health of its leaders.
  9. Thou shalt not rush the recovery process.  If your church is, or has been unhealthy (and perhaps under God’s discipline), especially for a long period of time, you need to be patient with the recovery process.  There should be an initial effort to reestablish the health of your church and Blessing Point Ministries can help you with that.  But subsequent to any healing process, it may take longer than you think for your church to grow out of its old unhealthy ways of relating.
  10. Thou shalt not confuse church growth with church health.  At some point during the last few decades the church growth people adopted the church health label.  They usually outline 7 marks, 10 dynamics or 9 principles of a “healthy” church.  While there is great value in what these programs teach, it is not church health per se, anymore than run-away weight gain would be considered healthy.  Genuine church health creates the environment where church growth principles bear fruit.  That being said, we’ve personally witnessed very unhealthy churches grow exponentially, which led to an even larger crash when it came.  We’ve also watched healthy churches struggle (and read about them in Revelation 2-3).

All these things take discernment to sort out but it is our responsibility as leaders to show that kind of discernment.  Consider taking our free ChurchScan Ministry Assessment to instantly get a baseline reading of your church’s true health.

With which of the Ten Commandments for Church Health do you most relate?

Rev. Mark Barnard serves as President of Blessing Point Ministries and is coauthor of The Eighth Letter – Jesus Still Speaks!

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