Sunday, December 05, 2010

Seven Marks of a Healthy Church

(Quoted in "Hope for the Church: Contemporary Strategies for Growth" by Bob Jackson)

1. Energized by faith rather than just keeping things going or trying to survive

worship and sacramental life: moves people to experience God’s love
motivation: energy comes from a desire to serve God and one another
engaging with Scripture: in creative ways connect with life
nurtures faith in Christ: helping people to grow in, and share their faith.

2. Outward-looking focus with a 'whole life' rather than a 'church life' concern

deeply rooted in the local community, working in partnership with other denominations, faiths, secular groups and networks
passionate and prophetic about justice and peace, locally and globally
makes connections between faith and daily living
responds to human need by loving service

3. Seeks to find out what God wants discerning the Spirit’s leaning rather than trying to please everyone

vocation: seeks to explore what God wants it to be and do
vision: develops and communicates a shared sense of where it is going
mission priorities: consciously sets both immediate and long-term goals
able to call for, and make, sacrifices, personal and corporate, in bringing about the above and living out the faith.


4. Faces the cost of change and growth rather than resisting change and avoiding failure

while embracing the past, it dares to take on new ways of doing things
takes risks: and admits when things are not working, and learns from experience
crises: responds creatively to challenges that face the church and community
positive experiences of change: however small, are affirmed and built on.

5. Operates as a community rather than functioning as a club or religious organisation

Relationships: are nurtured, often in small groups, so people feel accepted and are helped to grow in faith and service
leadership: lay and ordained work as a team to develop locally appropriate expressions of all seven marks of a healthy church
lay ministry: the different gifts, experiences and faith journeys of all are valued and given expression in and beyond the life of the church.

6. Makes room for all being inclusive rather than exclusive.

welcome: works to include newcomers into the life of the church
children and young people: are helped to belong, contribute and be nurtured in their faith
enquirers are encouraged to explore and experience faith in Christ
diversities: different social and ethnic backgrounds, mental and physical abilities, and ages, are seen as a strength.


7. Does a few things and do them well focused rather than frenetic.

does the basics well: especially public worship, pastoral care, stewardship and administration
occasional offices: make sense of life and communicate faith
being good news as a church in its attitudes and ways of working
enjoys what it does and is relaxed about what is not being done

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