Recently I found the Twitter account The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. He had a lot of pics of his diet. The fun part of his diet was him going off diet and eating six pizzas at one time or eating a stack of 25 pancakes (wow!). Most of the time though his diet consisted of some kind of fish mush mixed with hummus or something. All I know it was really gross, but he ate it to get the physical shape he’s in. He certainly looks to be in pretty good physical condition as a result. Unfortunately, a great body doesn’t come from a diet of ice cream and Cheeto’s. Sigh… we can all dream.
Same thing is true with a healthy church. There are some habits every healthy church does successfully, but most people will tell you they hate. Here are a few that I have observed.
- Meetings. Everyone says they hate boring meetings but well-run meetings are needed to be productive. When they function correctly they can help make faster decisions, communicate easier, and help everyone stay motivated. Most churches actually meet too little because their vision for the church is too small. When this happens the meetings rotate around minutia and not the grander mission of the church. That makes meetings boring.
- Deadlines. Healthy churches get things done in a timely manner. They don’t drag things out. Too often the most important matters the church is supposed to be concerned about, evangelism and serving others rarely get done with expedience because there is no urgency given those issues. A deadline could help give urgency to these issues. What gets urgent too often is paying the bills or getting some church program accomplished. Healthy churches give some kind of deadline to what matters most.
- Good Finances. I’m not a financial guru, but I do know healthy churches take care of their money with the highest of integrity. They also open up several different avenues on how people can donate to the ministry. Also, healthy churches have a financial plan on how to resource the church beginning with faith in God and not the bottom line.
- Planning. Healthy churches plan ahead. How a church should plan ahead I believe relies on two criteria. First, the church must consider the community they are in and consider the pace of that community in its planning. Like merging on to the highway the church must merge with the pace of the community to be effective. Secondly, it also must consult God in the entire process. You plan ahead, but God has permission to change the plan. One day I shared with a person that I plan my sermons out one year ahead. She wandered how one can depend on God if you plan so far out ahead. My answer to that is I know a God who knows the future and as I pray and meditate on the next year’s messages I believe he leads me with the future in mind. Healthy churches plan ahead.
- They embrace problems. What? Criticism is good for you? Yes- if they address real problems in your church. Healthy churches don’t sweep criticism or problems under the rug and hope they go away. They never do anyway. All they do is make your rug lumpy and people keep tripping over them and getting hurt.
Healthy churches deal with problems head on and hopefully before they bring others into its fire. Healthy churches know that pockets of sickness in the church can destroy its unity and sabotage its sense of mission. Few people will come directly to the leaders if they have a problem (most often not until they are leaving the church, if then) so a healthy church takes advantage of the criticism it receives to keep the ship upright and moving ahead.