One of the most common conclusions from the thousands of Church Growth studies done over the past 50 years is as simple as it is profound and that is: healthy Churches grow easily.
This premise is so simple that Church leaders have been overlooking it for years as they search for more complicated principles and strategies – all the time neglecting or ignoring the most important aspect of real Church growth and that is the health of the Church. Church health is rooted in the maturity, character and spirituality of its members. As researchers have woken up to this radical but simple truth, a lot of recent research has focused on Church health rather than Church growth.
One researcher, by the name of Christian Schwarz, examined hundreds of Christian Churches of various denominations in over 100 countries and what he discovered was fascinating. He found that every healthy, growing Church in over 100 countries and multiple denominations had eight essential characteristics in common:
– Passionate Spirituality
– Inspiring Worship
– Loving Relationships
– Holistic Small Groups
– Relational Evangelism
– Empowering Leadership
– Functional Structures
– Gift-Oriented Ministry
Some or all of these characteristics can be found in all Churches; however, the key words are the adjectives preceding each of these characteristics (e.g. Inspiring, Empowering, Loving etc.)
An underlying premise of growing healthy Churches is that as obstacles to growth are removed, the Church will grow naturally as God has given it the ability to grow. Take a plant, for example. If you plant it in poor, rocky soil, provide very little sunlight or water, the plant will not grow. If you remove the rocks, provide good soil, adequate sunlight and water, the plant will naturally grow, as God has given it the ability to grow.
So if our Church is to remain a healthy, growing Church, we need to ensure that the obstacles to good health are continually removed so that the life which God has placed within us can emerge. Developing the eight characteristics above will go a long way to ensuring the Church remains healthy and fruitful.