Measuring a Church’s Spiritual Health
One the hardest things for a church to acknowledge is that they may not be spiritual healthy. It may be even harder to identify what truly makes a church spiritual healthy or unhealthy. This is due to the fact that many traditions have emphasized different aspects and expressions of spiritual experience in the Christian faith. It is because of this that many churches will then gauge their own spiritual temperature based upon their own definition of what a spiritually healthy church looks like. So, we will work off of a simple, yet, biblically rooted definition of what a spiritually healthy church will look like.
In John chapter four, Jesus is speaking to a woman that he met at a well in the most unlikely of places. There the woman tried to ignite a conversation that were their equivalent of modern day worship wars. Her question to Jesus was where they should worship. Yet, Jesus took the conversation to a whole other level. Regardless of place, God is seeking “true worshippers” that “worship in spirit and in truth.” Biblical exposition and spiritual worship are then the call from the mouth of Jesus. While it is possible for a congregation to be involved in increasing the quality of the preaching, this is a personal endeavor for the preacher. On the other hand the overall worship experience is at the hands of people. Bob Russell writes, “The primary purpose of worship is to honor God, but corporate worship should also uplift and encourage believers” (2010, p. 46).
This is why worship should be inspiring. This is not just a positive experience through therapeutic sermons and happy feelings that are created by the songs. Healthy, spiritual worship compels people to come in with anticipation of what will take place. As the psalmist David wrote, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Ps. 122:1). Not only does inspiring worship draw people in because it lifts up Christ (Jn. 13:32) but it is also inspiring because when people are sent out, they feel compelled to live out the Word of God that was brought to them in the service. This is a place where worshipping in truth comes to play. Through biblical exposition the people are encouraged and challenged to live out the Word in their everyday lives after the worship event, because they understand it is a lifestyle. They are excited to come to church because they know they will leave with greater conviction to live out the Christian faith.
The next major marker that we examine is the issue of prayer. Jesus quoted scripture when he reminded people that the temple was a “house of prayer” (Mt. 21:13). We understand that individuals are now the temple of God with their own body but it is an important aspect that the local church or congregation is also known for being a community of prayer. There needs to be atmosphere of prayer that includes intercession and thanksgiving that is promoted by the leadership and is part of the identity for the whole church.
Lastly the congregation needs to be marked by love. Jesus states in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Love is a badge for any believer as well as the church. While many churches may be welcoming to a point they may not all display an atmosphere of warmth and fellowship. Knowing the love of a congregation includes their welcome and integration, their promotion of fellowship, and their hospitality.
Method of Measure and Content
The main method of measuring could probably be by a survey. It is possible to use a larger survey that will help the church leadership gain a larger understanding of more than just spiritual components. A survey such as the EFCA Church Health Survey (2007) will measure ten different areas for overall church health but it does have three focal areas that include, “passionate spirituality (prayer), Spirit-filled worship, and loving relationships.” Just those three areas from the EFCA Church Health Survey would bring to the table thirty questions.
Another method of measure would be in personal or group interviews. The questions would be opened ended questions so to promote more conversation from those being interviewed. Responses from the interviewer should be there to help dig deeper into the conversation. The following would be possible questions for interviews. These are adapted from some of the questions provided by Thom Rainer’s, “10 Questions for a Six-Month Spiritual Checkup” (2014).
- How has the church helped you read your bible more?
- How has the church helped your prayer life?
- How has the church challenged and helped you share you faith with others?
- How has the church’s worship service inspired you to serve the Lord faithfully?
- How has the church’s worship service inspired your fight against sin?
- What scriptures and songs has the church’s worship services helped you memorize?
- How is your family involved in worship services?
Rainer, Thom (2014). http://thomrainer.com/2014/06/24/10-questions-six-month-spiritual-checkup/
Russell, Bob; Russell, Rusty (2010-05-20). When God Builds a Church. Howard Books. Kindle Edition.