Just What Is a Healthy Church? – By Bill Owen, editor
At one of our Center for Healthy Churches semiannual gatherings, we decided to come up with a definition of “healthy church” that would help us articulate our understanding of what lies at the heart of the Center’s work. We spent several hours crafting a definition. We wanted it to reflect both our own long years of experience in creating healthy churches in congregations we had served as pastors and what we have learned from our years of working as consultants with church leaders from around the country.
We quickly came to a shared agreement about what metrics don’t inform our under-standing of “healthy,” specifically: the number of members a church has, the size of its budget, and how “successful” it has been. We’ve seen too many large, “successful” churches that exhibit unhealthy behaviors. We’ve also worked with too many small churches that exhibit robust health and a vital mission.
After many drafts, we came up with a statement that we feel captures the heart of our work. It also mirrors our understanding of the church’s call to be the body of Christ in and for the world. This definition emerged from our discernment: A healthy church is a community of Jesus followers with shared vision, thriving ministry, and trusted leadership.
This book is part of the Healthy Church Resources series, which is a collaboration of the Center for Healthy Churches, the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation and Good Faith Media. Other books in the series are available here.
Owen is a consultant at the Center for Healthy Churches. He served previously as pastor of Mount Carmel Church in Cross Plains, Tennessee, before retiring after 32 years of ministry.