Early American graveyards bristle with headstones topped with a “skull and crossbones.”
These macabre symbols signify death, the ulti
mate destroyer. They also bear epitaphs celebrating the life of the person lying below. One thought provoking epitaph reads, “I told you I was sick!”
What five or six words best describe your church? Are you sick, or healthy? How do you know? No one wants to say “I’m a member of a sick church.” We all want healthy churches.
The apostle, Paul, gave us some pointers toward church health in the fourth chapter of Ephesians. To the degree that we measure up, we are healthy. Wherever we don’t, we need a dose of medicine from the Holy Spirit.
A Hospital Church
A healthy church is a “hospital church.” The signs are simple: This church is well-doctored by its leaders. This includes the coaching and advice that a good doctor gives. Every member grows into a member of the healing team. As people get well, spiritually, they join the healing team. They build up the church by evangelizing their friends and neighbors.
I am always searching for modern metaphors for the church. Those in scripture are powerful and I teach them regularly. But, I also believe that we need modern parables to catch the attention of our people.
I like the hospital best of all those in my toolkit. This is because I firmly believe that everyone comes to the Lord very sick with sin. I also believe (and observe) that only those who become interested in healing others get anywhere near what I would call completely well. They may not be perfect, but they are mature and maturing.
How To Grow
I love the term “practicing medicine. It is so true of what doctors do. How often have you had a doctor prescribe a medicine in hopes that it works. My doctor recently gave me something that has all kinds of positive results apart from the specific purpose for which it was created. He wanted me to see if it would help my particular problem (it did). In other words, he was testing the medicine on me to see if it helped me, but also if it would help others. He was “practicing” medicine.
While some would object to this, I love it. I want an innovative doctor who will try new things. Hey, lighten up out there—I know some of you are thinking “I never want a doctor to practice on me!” Well, join the real world. They all do, including yours. What you really want to know is that they are practicing CAREFULLY. By this I mean that they don’t take a shot in the dark ( As in; “Yes, Martha, I did check the medicine on the internet and my doctor was right—the stuff does all kinds of things it wasn’t invented for”).
Churches that allow and encourage Christians to test their ministry skills are healthy churches. Those that do not are not.
Churches where Christians actually attempt to do the work of God are healthy. Where they do not, they are not.
Love Over Knowledge
Healthy Christians are those growing toward maturity in knowledge and ministry. They hold the truth in love rather than fight about it. The Bible is the ‘medical’ handbook. The members of a healthy church use it rather than argue about it.
A Special Calling
The members of a healthy church can identify their assignment. This is their own ‘calling’ from God.
To get join the team, our members need to understand their spiritual gifts. They also need growing faith.. To understand that they only have to offer the prayers and that they never need to answer them. This will release them to “practice Holy Spirit medicine.” Get ’em up and running and you will not only have a healthy church, you will make the world into a safer place.
Like A Healthy Body
A healthy church is the local display of the “body of Christ.” Each member is strong and healthy. Each one serves the other. Together they face the world with joy. This “hospital church” touches the world, as the body of Christ Jesus, with the same love and Holy Spirit power that he displayed two millennia ago. As a body it is healthy, growing and full of love.