I do not pretend to be an expert in this field or have it all figured out. I also do not believe that there is a such thing as a perfect church and if that is what you are looking for then you will be severely disappointed. However based on some observations of mine, I have concluded that any church striving to be biblically healthy and make long-lasting disciples must incorporate these things, however, this is not an exhaustive list!!
Theologically Sound Biblical Teaching And Preaching
The word of God must be the centerpiece of everything the church stands for and does. If this ever goes by the wayside, then the very foundation will completely erode. This is how God has primarily chosen to reveal Himself and there is no knowing Him outside of His word. To avoid this is to starve the body of Christ. Many try and pit loving people and God’s word against each other as though they are separate and we must choose between the two. That is completely ludicrous, because everything we know about how to love people like Jesus is based on a proper theological understanding of Scripture.
Compassion Toward Those Who Do Not Know Christ
Having a proper theological understand of Scripture but not having love and compassion toward people makes all that knowledge useless. The whole point in growing in discipleship is to not only follow Jesus but also disciple others and lead them to follow Jesus. Growing closer to Jesus should make us so aware of our own sin that we can’t help but show compassion toward other sinners because we see the grace that God has shown us. We should not expect those who don’t know Christ to act like they are saved. The church should extend the same mercy toward others that Christ has extended to us.
A Hyper Focus On Reaching People With The Gospel
I heard a pastor say once that if a church didn’t evangelize, it will fossilize. The mandate of the church as a whole is to spread the message encouraging all to repent and believe the gospel. This includes local and foreign missions. The two aren’t at war with each other and a healthy church focuses on both. Nothing should ever take the place of this gospel message, including social justice programs, political agendas, activity programs, sports leagues, etc.. Of course there is nothing wrong with some of the other things but they must all be centered around the gospel message of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Once anything else becomes the focus we have lost our way.
A Place Where Every Member Is A Minister
Too often ten percent of the church does everything, which leads to a burnt-out pastor and leadership. A healthy church is one where every believer understands that we are all ministers where we are. The job of the pastor is not only to shepherd but to prepare the body to do the work of ministry. Nobody is called to just be a sideline spectator who shows up on Sunday but never gets involved. If you know Jesus, you ARE a minister and a vital part of the body of Christ!
A Place Where We Lovingly Sharpen Each Other
There is a time and place where we as Christians are to lovingly call each other out. If there is no accountability, then we will all eventually fall. Many push back against this in the day and age of “hey don’t judge me.” Some see this as harsh, but actually the basis for this is love and a desire to see the church experience the abundant life Jesus talked about in John 10:10. Matthew 18 is clear that we are to approach a brother who is in sin. Paul spoke of doing this multiple times and love as well as the desire for repentance was always the motivation. This is not easy, but I am thankful for those who have challenged me in the past instead of allowing me to drown in my sin. Also remember that BEFORE we ever confront somebody else we must first be willing to examine our own hearts!