Friday, December 08, 2006

A Healthy Discussion

We had another discussion at yesterday's preachers meeting about healthy churches. I like it! I am so excited to see us finally shift our focus in church growth from numbers to spiritual health. At a time when there's more church-hopping and style seeking than real relationship building, how can anyone define "church success" by large, medium, or small, as if they were talking about pizzas instead of living bodies of believers. Most church folks still pick congregations like they were shopping for curtains or, and maybe more appropriately, the newest DVD. Church is all about "what I like," "what I need," or "what really makes going to church enjoyable." If we happen, by the shear number of times attending, to get close to someone and develop a good friendship, well - that's just icing on the cake. Thus church success is defined by how many we attract and hold, and church health is defined by how many people are in an uproar about something. As much as I love church health over church growth, I am still troubled why how quickly we equate health with happiness. We joke about troublemakers, brainstorm about including the left-out, and worry about how the next change is going to be received by Pre-War, Post-War, Baby Boomer, Gen Xers, Me Gen, Old Folks, Power Hungry, the New Members, the still Dead, the Wild Ones, etc., etc., so forth and so on! Wait a second! Spiritual health is not about numbers, or labels, or being mega or mini, or being free from conflict. Symptoms? Maybe! Spiritual health is faithfulness! Faithfulness, the kind that is not about image management, is a relationship with Jesus! There is no relationship with Jesus without a deep prayer life, because it is a relationship based on faith and prayer is the single most important act of faith in our life. So what is church health? Jesus! He's not a topic or a course of study - He's Lord, Master, sovereign, friend, and imitating Him is the goal of every child of God. Church health is a body of believers totally focused on HIM! It's a praying church! A compassionate church! A group of givers not receivers, which makes assembly style and ministry organization insignificant supports! Of course, if health is all about Jesus, then love will be what defines any congregation as belonging to Him. The next time I'm asked, "What is a healthy church," whether it's a preachers meeting or group of children, my answer will be: Any group of believers that Jesus would point to and say, "They're mine!" The question is not what we think, but what does He think! Here's to your health!

4 comments:

elizabeth said...

As I get older, (don't laugh, I know I'm not really that old) I have a new appreciation for health. Not just physically, but emotionally, as well. And I certainly have a new appreciation for what it means to belong to a healthy church. Loved this post!!!

kelly shunk said...

Oh Mr. Root- I am so happy to find you via blogland! Seeing all your pics and commentary #1)makes me miss you guys and #2) brings back such wonderful memories from when you guys were in VA....I look forward to checking back!

Maryann said...

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Can you see me shouting... oh, I loved your thoughts here. So true...may God HELP us teach the next generation this. Thank you, Mike, for continually focusing it all on JESUS!!!!!

julie said...

Mike, you may not remember me but my mom went to Fairfax while you were there. I found you through a series of blogs that took me to your daughter's blog and then to yours. I am Julie Stone Danley. I am Dean Stone's daughter and I am married to Tim Danley. We now live in Abilene, Tx and I think that the last time I saw you was at Pepperdine about 5 or maybe 6 years ago. Good to read your words. My mom still talks fondly of your time in Fairfax.