(Tim Challies) Today I want to talk about the health of a local church. Are there ways we can know that a church is healthy or a way we can know it’s unhealthy? And this comes from a question I received from somebody who’s been watching these videos. Let me read the question:
“I’m curious to know how you might go about evaluating the spiritual health of the congregation? Here’s the key; are there objective ways of identifying whether a congregation is growing or stagnant and is there a clear set of biblical markers or indicators that you would use to assess whether the congregation is spiritually healthy?”
Great question. We’ll roll the intro and then I’ll try to give it an answer.
So the heart of the question is, are there objective ways to measure the health, the strength of a local church? I think the answer is no. I know we like to have objective ways of measuring things. I think that’s a very modern way of looking at the world, maybe a very western way of looking at the world. It’s also very contemporary, right. Everything has a star rating. I mean, I don’t even know how to buy socks anymore without going on Amazon and seeing how many stars they have. And of course, I’m not going to buy four-star socks when I could buy four and a half star socks, right. So, we’re very used to having everything measured, everything given some sort of clear indication, here’s the quality as judged by an expert, or even better, as judged by our peers.
Church doesn’t work that way. The health, the strength of a local church, it just can’t be measured in those easy ways. It doesn’t mean people haven’t tried. And I think some of the standards people try to use that would be more on the objective side would be of course the size of the church, we love to talk about whether our church is large or small, really, we just want to talk about how big our church is. Maybe the number of baptisms, the number of members, the amount of giving. Oh man, people love to talk about what the budget of their church is, how much people are giving. Maybe the number of small groups. So, all these ways we can quantify the church. I still don’t think those really get us to the heart of the question, which is, how do we know if our church is healthy? And I think that’s really where we have to go to measures that are more subjective. Allow the Bible to point us to what the bible values, what God values, and then say, is our church matching that?