Ever since serving as National Director for Christian Education and Commissioner on Discipleship for the Assemblies of God, “healthy churches” and “healthy Christians” have been a passion of mine. I have to admit, however, they were a passion much before then… They were a passion throughout my entire pastoral ministry and my involvement at Southwestern Assemblies of God University as a professor and administrator in the College of Bible and Church Ministries.
Here’s a truism you need to write down somewhere: “Healthy, growing churches produce healthy, growing Christians!”
So this morning during “coffee with the Lord” I read a well-known passage on the subject that reminded me again of how important healthy churches and healthy Christians are! It’s the story of the “first church” – the story of what the church DID (and provided for) right after Pentecost (Acts 2:42-47) … Here it is right from the Bible (incredible story!)
“And they [right after Pentecost] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved!” (Acts 2:42–47 ESV)
You know, if I were looking for a church that evidenced “health” – a church that would help me grow and become a “healthy Christian” – I would look for a church that evidenced seven things found in these verses:
1. Teaching ministry – the study of God’s Word
2. Prayer ministry – Fervent prayer emphasized and practiced
3. Worship – vibrant, authentic worship (including, but not limited to singing)
4. Ministry to one another in the power of the Holy Spirit
5. Fellowship – A healthy emphasis on the “one another” aspect of following Jesus
6. Generosity – An “others focused” attitude to things and the steward of everything!
7. Evangelism – Growth that results from an “outward focus” – the Gospel taken/sent everywhere!
And one final, all-encompassing feature… All seven carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit!