10 Traits of a Healthy Church

A nice or new building doesn’t make a church a healthy church. Big numbers of people don’t make a church a healthy church. Big budgets don’t make a church a healthy church. So what does make a healthy church?  What does a healthy church look like?

Here are what I believe are 10 traits of a healthy church …

  1. Healthy churches talk about Jesus all the time. Their main focus isn’t their building, their budget or their bottom line, it’s Jesus. Healthy churches don’t need gimmicks, they have Jesus. He’s at the center of everything they do and teach. You cannot over teach/preach Jesus. He IS the message.
  2. Healthy churches are intentional in making disciples. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples…” and that’s the goal of a healthy church. Too many times, churches are guilty of simply making believers and not continuing to make those believers into disciples.
  3. Healthy churches involve people. Healthy churches don’t have 10% of the people doing 90% of the work. You’ve got to incorporate and involve people. Let them know they are needed.
  4. Healthy churches use the Bible. It’s the best book ever. It’s full of answers for people’s lives. To use something other than the bible is stupid. When we teach the bible, we must teach about relationship not just facts. Knowing the 66 books of the bible in order, how old Methuselah was, or the names of the 12 apostles WON’T get you to heaven. Knowing Jesus and having a relationship with him WILL get you to heaven. We must teach the bible.
  5. Healthy churches put a BIG focus on children. Children are the future. You cannot put too much emphasis on the youth and children. VBS, bible classes, youth functions and youth ministers are all valuable assets in reaching, teaching and raising youth. A sign your church is dying is when worship is quiet and there are no children.
  6. Healthy churches teach the Bible in a way people can understand. A lesson taught or preached without any application is a great mistake. People must be challenged. People need practical lessons that will help in their daily lives. God didn’t make the bible difficult, so churches don’t need to either.
  7. Healthy churches open their arms and lives to others. Healthy churches know that there are times when physical needs are more important than spiritual needs. As the old saying goes, “People don’t care about what you know, until they know how much you care.” The church is not just about learning Christianity, it’s about LIVING like Christ. Church isn’t about what you do on Sunday during worship, but about how you love others in your community during the week.
  8. Healthy churches are actively involved in outreach. One of the traits of a healthy church is they are always looking for ways to reach out to the lost around them. Dying churches make no effort to reach their community around them. Unhealthy churches have replaced the great commission of “Go into all the world” with “The lights are on, come if you want.” A healthy church’s mission is to share the good news anyway they can.
  9. Healthy churches have leaders who lead. Churches will take on the personality of the leadership. If the leadership is passive and unwilling to set an example of the things mentioned above … the church will follow. But when a leadership stands up and goes to work, you watch, so will the church. Unhealthy church leadership is more concerned with being comfortable and keeping people happy, than discipleship.
  10. Healthy churches have an atmosphere where people will want to bring their unchurched friends. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard in the past, “The last place I wanted to bring my friend was to church, because I knew the preacher would say something to embarrass them or me.” How sad. The church needs to be a safe environment where people know they can bring family or friends without them getting their “hides nailed to the wall.”

What traits would you like to add?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
25 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Scott McCown says:

    Thanks for a great list — I think this will preach or at least be in the bulletin some Sunday really soon.

  2. Ryan Tate says:

    That’s a healthy list. Awesome.

    In thinking of what to add, I keep coming up with redundant points.

    I’d be willing to add that: A healthy church is at it’s best when it’s empty and acts as a rallying point. The body is out being the body in the community, the region, and beyond. It rallys on Sunday and then is sent out again.

    But even that is redundant to your awesome points. Great stuff Trey.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      “I’d be willing to add that: A healthy church is at it’s best when it’s empty and acts as a rallying point. The body is out being the body in the community, the region, and beyond. It rallys on Sunday and then is sent out again.”

      Very well said. Totally agree, Ryan.

  3. Aron says:

    So what happens when you review the list and 9 of the 10 are huge red flags for your church (#4 being the only positive trait)?

    I have been struggling for 3 years as a lay leader in a very small church trying to push for more outreach, disciple-making, and most importantly – JESUS as the center of everything we do – with little to show for it.

    We have “church of Christ” on our sign, but it feels more like “church of the church” sometimes.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Aron … I feel your pain. I’ve seen “churches of the church” before. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to make these changes. Keep working, encouraging change and seeking church God’s way.

      Praying for your church.

  4. Greg England says:

    Healthy churches are “messy” … involved in messy situations with messy people.

  5. Donna says:

    Healthy churches expect and welcome the Spirit to show up and disrupt the status quo

  6. Healthy churches contain laughter!
    Healthy churches place a high priority on prayer.
    Healthy churches do not empty quickly after worship times are done.
    Healthy churches admit that they are not perfect.

  7. Marc Tindall says:

    Healthy churches recognize that what happens in the “church building” is only the huddle and that “the game” is what happens everywhere else.
    Healthy churches have shepherds that tend to the flock – knowing and loving them.
    Healthy churches will be known by their love for each other.
    Healthy churches are a blessing to their communities and to the world.

  8. Julie says:

    believers into disciples… I had to look up the definition of disciple.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Julie, it’s easy being a believer … it’s hard to be a disciple. Becoming a believer happens in a moment, becoming a disciple takes a lifetime. A disciple is someone who patterns their life after Jesus.

  9. Doug Young says:

    Trey,

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Peter Steinke’s work or not, but he has a book that I highly recommend entitled, Healthy Congregations. It is well-worth the read.

    I would also say that healthy churches are transparent. The leadership doesn’t form the church’s identity with a facade. They aren’t afraid to talk about their imperfections. When church’s behave in transparent way, they don’t come across to outsiders as offensive and better than everyone else.

  10. […] 1. Trey Morgan gives us a really good list this week. Every Christian should read and honestly evaluate the congregation they attend with his “10 Traits of a Healthy Church.” […]

  11. Lance says:

    Trey,

    Great list and post. My challenge has always been finding one church that truly embodies all these traits. I would also add non-judgmental/hypocritical to the list. I look for a church that exudes God’s grace not his wrath and one that builds bridges to the lost rather than condemning them. Gave you some tweet love.

    Lance

  12. […] 10 Traits of a healthy Church. […]

  13. Jesse Focht says:

    Healthy church’s stand united even in the face of adversity. Even when there’s arguments and disputes a healthy church is strengthened by overcoming a problem rather than splitting. A healthy church will practice love, not just talk about it as an abstract idea.

  14. Brian B. says:

    Hey Trey,

    I recently found your blog and am reading through old posts that my RSS feed picked up. I wanted to ask you about your 10th point: church is a place where visitors can feel safe and won’t have their “hides nailed to the wall.” What do you consider safe? What do you consider being nailed to the wall.

    For example, I am part of a preaching team at my church. We are working our way through 1 Corinthians and I was assigned the last half of chapter 6 and I preached my sermon. The main thrust of my sermon was about being aware of how culture can creep into our theology and influence our behavior. I wouldn’t say I nailed anyone’s hide to the wall, but when looking at this text, you can’t hide the fact that Paul says sexual immorality dishonors God and I stated as much in my sermon.

    Was that unsafe? Should I have avoided that?

    It’s not my intention to attack or undermine your position. I want your opinion on this matter. Should difficult texts be avoided to make the visitor feel more comfortable?

    Thanks,
    Brian B.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Brian … thanks for the comment. I understand where you’re coming from. I should have been more specific. There is a clear difference between preaching the truth of the text (which we should always do), and trying to nail someone’s hide to the wall. I would never shy away from a tough text that made a hard point, but I also would never want to call out names of other denominations or people from the pulpit.

      Maybe this point comes from my background where I have sadly heard men get mean, nasty and dirty from the pulpit to make a point. Many of them using spewing their viewpoints on who is going to hell and who isn’t, all in the name of the Lord. Their thought was to take full advantage of their position (preaching to a captive audience), to verbally and spiritually abuse those who disagreed with him.

      I make no apologies for preaching a lesson that may step on toes, but I will do it in a kind, loving way … because I’ve yet to see anyone converted with their hide nailed to the wall.

      I hope that helps some. Thanks for taking time to read my blog.

  15. Brian B. says:

    Trey,

    Thanks for your explanation. I figured that was your opinion, but I am glad to see what you had to say.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
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