- Featured Presentation: Why We Must Heal the Church
- Second Shift: How to grow your part-time passion to full-time influence – Dr. Harold Arnold
- The Purpose Driven Church – Pastor Rick Warren
- The Emotionally Healthy Church – Peter Scazzero
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero
Faith in Focus: “Shut the Door”
(Malachi 1:10, ESV)
“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.”
For many in Western cultures and beyond, the Church as we have known it for centuries has become outdated and in some instances irrelevant. Rather than being a central institution informing the faith foundation of society, the Church is increasingly marginalized as out of touch.
Even those who are regular or semi-regular Church attenders behave in ways that are incongruent with accepted Church traditions. The Holy Bible is viewed as self-help literature rather than the divinely inspired Word of God. Hence, church-goers pick and choose what they will accept and reject with reckless abandon.
In his article, 20 Contrasts Between Healthy and Unhealthy Churches, author Joseph Mattera offers an insightful treatise on discerning the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy churches. I’ve restated them here:
- Healthy churches are fueled by passion for their God-given vision. Unhealthy churches are fueled by a self-serving ambition to fulfill their vision.
- Healthy churches put much effort into releasing the saints to their calling. Unhealthy churches objectify and use the saints to fulfill their ambitious vision and agenda.
- Healthy churches encourage healthy, transparent dialogue amongst their members. Unhealthy churches engage in top-down monologue and encourage conformity to their plans.
- Healthy church leaders walk in the light with one another. Unhealthy church leaders walk in superficial religious role playing with one another.
- Healthy churches bless members who leave their congregations the correct way. Unhealthy churches curse and badmouth all who leave their congregations irrespective of how they leave.
- Healthy churches have transparent systems of financial accountability. Unhealthy churches have secretive procedures regarding their financial methods.
- Healthy churches have senior pastors who consult with a governing body in leading their churches. An unhealthy church has a board of one and a council of one that leads the church.
- Healthy churches have a senior pastor with multiple levels of accountability. Unhealthy churches have senior pastors with no real accountability.
- Healthy churches have leaders and committed members engaged in regular seasons of fasting and prayer. Unhealthy churches have little or no seasons of fasting and prayer.
- Healthy churches encourage a congregational culture of emotional and spiritual health to mature their attendees. Unhealthy churches utilize hype and emotionalism to excite their attendees.
- Healthy churches encourage their attendees to give to the church, and to manage their personal finances. Unhealthy churches only encourage their members to give financially to their churches.
- Healthy churches utilize their members to perpetuate the vision. Unhealthy churches use their members to perpetuate the vision.
- Healthy churches produce leaders who learn the art of critical thinking. Unhealthy churches only produce followers who carry out the thoughts and plans of the senior leader.
- Healthy churches utilize lay leaders to facilitate small groups to develop community amongst their members. Unhealthy churches utilize programs and large meetings to centralize leadership and ministry into the hands of a few.
- Healthy churches have a multi-generational plan for effective ministry. Unhealthy churches usually last only as long as the senior leader lasts.
- Healthy churches speak the truth in love. Unhealthy churches exaggerate and use marketing schemes to keep morale high in their congregations.
- Healthy churches preach the whole counsel of God to encourage discipleship. Unhealthy churches preach what attracts the most people to their services.
- Healthy churches put relationships before ministry. Unhealthy churches put ministry before relationships.
- Healthy churches are passionate about loving Christ above all else. Unhealthy churches are passionate most about self-preservation and financial opulence.
- Healthy churches walk in humility. Unhealthy churches walk in arrogance and presumption.
- How has the Church contributed to unhealthy relationships
- The social impact of unhealthy churches
- How we can transform Church culture
- An overview of a nascent movement (The Unity Collective) to impact Church relationships
- and, much much more.