I recently read an article by Thom Rainer on "The Two Most Common Practices In Healthy Churches." Seemed like a good article for a pastor to read and Thom Rainer is a well respected author, researcher, and leader who currently serves as President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. We all desire church health so I was curious as to what he would say!
He has found that most churches "have created cultures of activity ... instead of cultures of transformational discipleship." This means many church members are very busy, often doing good and important things, but they're not really experiencing life change ... they're not necessarily growing as a disciple of Christ. But Rainer discovered that the healthier churches consistently emphasize two particular things: 1) daily Bible reading and 2) small group participation. It's really not rocket science is it? Those who are becoming more like Christ aren't necessarily the busiest, rather they are the ones who daily feed themselves from God's Word and are in the context of a small group (Sunday School, community group, discipleship group, etc.)
There are a few things we need to ask ourselves if we want to be a healthy Christian in a healthy church:
- Do you read your Bible on a daily basis? I know we're busy people but we'll typically figure out ways to do whatever it is we deem important.
- Are you in a small group of some sort? If you're just attending worship on a sporadic basis then you're likely not experiencing much life change. We're designed by God to live this Christian life together for encouragement, support, accountability, etc. Put small group involvement high on your list of priorities.
- If you're a leader in the church are you determined to see church members move into these two important habits? Often leaders just settle to see people active in whatever aspect of ministry they are responsible for rather than lead them to what's really important.
Obviously church life requires a lot of activity from a lot of people in order for it to function as a healthy body. But if these two things aren't at the heart of what we're doing we're tragically missing the boat. Let's make sure CPC becomes and continues to be a healthy church as we read our Bibles and meet together in small groups!