Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart


Stethoscope

Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

The first church was, “devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer; and everyone was filled with awe.”

This stethoscope is used to hear heartbeats from your church devotion, teaching, fellowship, and breaking of bread, which means community and doing it all in love.

What does the stethoscope “hear” from your church?

What is your church devoted to?

What and where is your awe and wonderment?

These will be the questions, and if answered honestly, will be the measuring rod to the health of your church. This passage in Acts gives us the purpose, vision, and call of the Church, both as a whole and individually. Not just a certain church down the street, but your church, and all churches together as one body. The healthy church looks like Acts 2!

This means we look like we are devoted to Christ and His callwe are teaching effectively, we are in fellowship and community with one another, we are forgiving and honoring of one another, and doing all we do in love. We also look like people who are focused on prayer and our growth in Him. It is not just what we look like, it is because we are. And we do this, with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. The healthy church can be your church; perhaps it already is, or maybe it needs to be reformed. So, strive to catch that AWE, that passion and devotion to our Lord and the reason for our being!

            Most churches that are failing did not wake up one day and just decide, “Hey, let’s fail.” They did not start off with “me first” intentions, ignoring our Lord’s call.

They probably did not choose a purposeful direction of being critical and condescending to one another, and especially not with non-Christians. They did not write their mission statements with a “how to do a disdainful disposition,” or hold seminars on modeling attitudes of puffed-up pride! Or let’s chase a meaningless trend and forget about God’s Word. There was a process that led up to the point of decline and apathy from a starting point of new birth and excitement. There was a point where the first love became clouded, and other dispositions took over the role of the church. Just as the divorcing couple did not go into their wedding with the vision and plan for the divorce, or say in their vows, “say, in five years, let’s become so miserable that we will divorce and live frustrated and disillusioned lives.”

Here, too, was a process that went from the love and excitement of newlywed bliss to bitterness, criticism, patronizing, defensiveness, and withdrawal, and finally, the decision to end the relationship.

How? By losing focus on Christ. By not being in the Word. By weak and irrelevant teaching with no Bible or application. By leaders who are not growing in the Lord. By tracing trends and not Christ as Lord. By accepting the ways of the world and not His Way?

The Top Ten (10) Trends Affecting Church Health

1. The healthiest churches have an active supportive and trained leadership—spiritual, growing and contented members who are excited about the Gospel.

2. The healthiest churches have a high reverence for the Bible and are involved in discipleship and the multiplication of it.

3. There is a direct correlation between the decline of small groups, those who actually study the Bible, or a decline of quality small group Bible-based curricula (versus a mere book study) and the decline of evangelism, stewardship, spiritual growth, and leadership participation!

4. There is a direct correlation between the decline of personal devotions and personal prayer and Bible study amongst leaders and pastors and the decline of church health, evangelism, stewardship, spiritual growth, and leadership participation!

5. American Christians increasingly tend to be more and more isolated from their non-Christian counterparts, in one’s family, workplace, and secular society in general. The more one is involved as a Christian, the less influence they have to others in the world for the Gospel.

6. Non-Christians, academia, and the media are more and more openly hostile to the Gospel. At the same time, many younger non-Christians (ages 14 to 30) are more receptive to the Gospel message.

7. Less than 10% of Reformed and Evangelical churches (not mainline or Catholic) have an evangelism program or plans for one.

8. The churches that are growing both numerically and spiritually in fruit and maturity have an active missions program and local outreach.

9. The churches that are growing both numerically and spiritually in fruit and maturity have preaching and small groups doing active teaching or expository or exegetical Bible sermons and not simple messages.

10. Younger people, 14 to 30 year olds, are seeking a deeper relationship in churches than previous generations. They want relevant worship, deeper Bible studies, preaching that is centered on the Bible and the glorification of Christ, and practical life-relational helps. The dropout rate of 14 to 30 year olds is at an all-time high—50% to 70%. The primary reason is that they want more and the churches they visit do not offer it! The other 30% to 50% drop out because of apathy and indifference, a loss of hope, and the Church cannot fulfill them anymore.

Church Health Indicators: Other Areas that Need Attention

 

  • Your church is healthy if there is quality and consistent participation by more than 20% of your membership in outreach to the community! If you are not reaching out, you have a big problem.
  • Your church is healthy if the training, mobilization, support, and sending out of missionaries here and overseas is occurring. Your church budget is the clue to what is important and what is not. If you are not sending and supporting people to do the Lord’s work, then what are you doing (Matt. 28:18-20)? 
  • Your church is healthy if your congregation is involved and there is participation in leadership. If people are not involved, you have a big problem.
  • Your church is healthy if there is healthy communication and contribution. Grievances are welcomed, discussed, and dealt with in a mutual loving and beneficial way. If there is not effective communication, or if there are hidden dealings (not to betray confidences), you are creating distrust between your people and your leadership, and you have a big problem.
  • Your church is healthy if there is an attitude of servant leadership and mutual respect. If you are not honoring, equipping, and encouraging one another by modeling Christ, you have a big problem (Prov. 27:17-18)!
  • Your church is healthy if it is a place where people, both visitors and members, feel welcomed. People can be facilitated to learn and grow where hospitality is extended, where there is no favoritism or prejudice, and where the Fruits of the Spirit are in operation. If your church is not bearing Fruit, you have a big problem.
  • Got love? Your church is healthy if you are loving, caring, and concerned for the members and the community. If you do not love, you have a big, big problem!
  • Your church is healthy if you are reaching out to the youth with good programming and quality discipleship. If the youth are not welcomed, then Christ is not welcomed!
  • Your church is healthy if people are going to services to worship Christ. You do not want to see people going to church only out of obligation, habit, or family pressures. We come together to learn of Christ, to honor Him, and allow Him into our lives. Allow Christ to intrude even where you do not want Him to. If your church is not Christ-centered and your leadership is not Christ-centered, you have a big problem. You are not a church; and to be more precise, you are just a club!