The question that most Christian have rarely bothered to ask is, “How healthy is my church?” Certainly, there are no perfect churches, but also imperfect churches can be healthy. In his book, Gangel introduces the concept of the healthy great commission churches. These are communities made up of Christ-centered people with the qualities of the five balanced values comprised of; winning the lost, building the believer, equipping the worker, multiplying the leader, and sending the called ones. However, it has been observed that most churches are languishing in notional and nominal Christianity which has given rise to pragmatism and pettiness. This has seen most evangelical churches to shift focus from glorifying God to increasing their numeric capacity. This is contrary to how healthy churches should be measured; in their spiritual terms, adherence to biblical patterns of ministry, theological foundation, guided by a ministry model, and use of scriptural models of leadership. Willard observes how most churches stray from The Great Commission into the Great Omission where the churches strive to make converts and baptize them into church membership.This paper will discuss what makes up a healthy church in reference to assessments carried out to examine the church values of a church of choice, in this case The Church of Esther, and an examination of its strategy and how it affects the status of health of the church.
The Church Health Assessment
From the interview with the senior Pastor of The Church of Esther, Pasto Kennedy, certain elements about the church became clear. The pastor indicated that the church was guided by a mission statement to “advance the kingdom of God by spreading the message of hope and lover that is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.” The pastor pointed out to the three core values of The Church of Esther which include; biblical teaching of the word of God and having it apply to the Christians, serving the needs of the members and the community, and development of Lay leaders and disciples. The pastor described the church as growing and characterized by democratic leadership. The pastor views the church as functional and growing as it was recently developed and it has taken its time and resources to put in place processes, systems, and structure. The church is a young church that has been in existence for less than ten year, and with less than one hundred members who are mostly middle-aged on the range of 36-50 years. The Pastor expressed the opinion that The Church of Esther was a symbol of love while is leaders reflected a symbol of servitude.
From the Church Health Assessment, The Church of Esther scored a score of 301 which implied that it fell in the category of a healthy church (alive and growing). This matches the description from the Pastors interview who indicated the church was functional and growing. From the score sheet among the things that The Church of Esther scored the highest include God-Exalting worship, commitment to love and caring relationships, an outward focus total, wise administration and accountability, and stewardship and generosity. The elements that had lower marks include; God’s empowering presence, networking with the Body of Christ, Spiritual disciples, and learning and growing in community. The aspect with the least score was in servant-leadership. This differs with what the pastor had indicated, where he had stated that among the key core values are relationship with community and development of leaders. The scores for these two traits are among the least scored traits from the total church health score. From a personal perspective about the Health Score of the Church of Esther; the teachings in the church do not stress God’s will over self thus members are geared towards self-reliance rather than God-reliance; the church practice can always improve of the aspect of living out God’s empowering presence and effectively living out God-exalting worship in church; The Church of Esther has taken the call of developing its infrastructure in a strive for excellence.
Church Core Value Audit
From the core value audit by the pastor, top six core values that The Church of Esther highly considers were noted to include Bible knowledge, community, leadership, prayer, excellence and worship. Among the least values less regarded as important include status quo where the preference is for things to remain as they are and tradition that advocates for things being done in a customary and traditional way that is tried and tested.
From the student’s assessment of the core values at The Church of Esther, the top core values that are prioritized include Bible knowledge, community, encouragement, giving, leadership, and prayer. The student indicated that the least considered values are status quo and tradition.
From these two distinct and independent assessments, four out of the top six core values rated by the pastor and the student were similar. These include Bible knowledge, community, leadership, and prayer. This is clear indication that that these are the top core values that the church explicitly lives by and are well understood by the members of the congregation. The church must have put in place mechanism to address these core values that makes it distinguished from the rest of the churches. There was also common ground in reference to the least considered values as both the pastor and the student noted that status quo and strict adherence to traditions were non-issues.
The Church of Esther is on the right path of promoting the art disciple-making that is said to requires the church to get to know Christ and to make Him known. By seeking to provide the members with intensive Biblical knowledge, The Church of Esther aims art improving the understanding of the biblical understanding of the cost of discipleship making. It is indicated that one can only be disciple of Jesus if they desire above everything else to be like Him, which can only come to be when first understands how Jesus was.
Christians are expected to be followers of Christ who touch the lives of the people living around. On this noted it is indicated that churches exist for the sole purpose of drawing men to Christ. The Church of Esther has made strides in living by this teaching as indicated in its mission statement where it indicates its purpose as advancing the kingdom of od by spreading the message of hope found in relationship with Christ. The pastor also indicated that The Church of Easter considers serving the needs of the members and the community as among its core values.
It has been noted that the most churches have strayed from the concept of discipleship making by concentrating in values seeking only to increase the numerical number of their followers as developing disciple makers as per the Great Commission. An assessment of the Church of Esther indicated to be an alive and growing church both from the Pastors description and student’s assessment. The core values that considered as priority at the Church of Esther include; Biblical knowledge, community, leadership and prayer.
Dever, Mark. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Washington, 2005.
Gangel, Kenneth. “Marks of a Health Church.” BiblioTheca Sacra, 2001: 467-77.
Hull, Bill. The complete book of discipleship: On being and making followers of Christ. Tyndale House, 2014.Willard, Dallas. The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s essential teachings on discipleship. Zondervan, 2006.
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