Why Church Health is So Important
Probably everyone would agree that church health is a worthy target. If you’ve lived through a hard patch in a local church, then you know how painful the opposite can be. There is a kind of sickness that can easily beset a fellowship, especially when there is rampant immaturity. Paul addressed the Corinthians about this when he says
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not being merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. (1 Cor. 3:1-5 ESV)
But, is church health a good way of framing the goal. I believe the answer is yes. Consider two particular examples.
In John 15, Jesus illustrates the Christian life as union with him. This union is pictured as a branch connected to a vine. He goes on to depict the relative health of that branch. Either it remains in him and bears much fruit (subject to the Father’s pruning) or it withers and is removed. In other words, the health of an organism combined with the idea of growth and maturation, are ideal ways of thinking about our spiritual lives.
Corporately, Paul pictures the church in a similar way. The church is like a living body. Paul uses this analogy in Romans 12, 1Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. The goal of the body, i.e., the church, is to grow and reach maturity. The good outcome of this is that we will not be as children, (easily deceived) but grow up into Christ, become equipped and have each part working properly as we are built up in love. (Ephesians 4:10-16)
When leaders seek to direct the affairs of the church, the primary question is not what looks good, feels good, makes people happy, or keeps people coming and giving. No, the goal is that healthy, unimpeded growth in Christ. We pledge to always keep that as our aim here at Grace. We will strive to do what makes for health. We may not always hit the mark, but we keep our eye on that target.