Thursday, December 08, 2005

Healthy or unhealthy

Picked this up today from MMI

Jeff explains, "This list of characteristics of a healthy church is adapted from Cory and Cory’s description of healthy groups in: Theory and Practice of Group Counseling. As I was preparing to teach a counseling course I was struck by the similarites between healthy and unhealthy groups and healthy and unhealthy churches. I took Cory's list and found relevant passages from Acts that described a healthy church."

FOR DISCUSSION: Think about each statement as it relates to your church. Identify strengths and build on them. Identify weaknesses and take measures to improve those areas. Work to improve the health of your church knowing that your salvation is secure. You are the church of God. One day Jesus will present his church to himself as perfect, without blemish. Until that time we pray and rely on the Holy Spirit as we strive to be all the Lord wants us to be as a church.

Take a look at these and see what you think:

Healthy Church - Relies on the Holy Spirit (2:1-47)
Unhealthy Church - Relies on human effort

Healthy Church - Based on the Bible (2:42)
Unhealthy Church - Based on tradition

Healthy Church - Emphasis on grace (15:1-35)
Unhealthy Church - Emphasis on works-righteousness

Healthy Church - God gets all the credit (2:47)
Unhealthy Church - People get the credit.

Healthy Church - Faithfully practices the ordinances of baptism (2:41) and communion (2:42)
Unhealthy Church - Fails to practice these ordinances or
overemphasizes them.

Healthy Church - Diversity is encouraged (2:9-11), and there is a respect for individual beliefs and cultural differences
Unhealthy Church - Conformity is prized, and individual beliefs & cultural differences are devalued.

Healthy Church - Prayer is a priority (4:23-31)
Unhealthy Church - Prayer is talked about but not practiced

Healthy Church - Communication is clear & direct (15:22-35)
Unhealthy Church - Communication is unclear & indirect.

Healthy Church - Repentance is stressed (3:19)
Unhealthy Church - Repentance is whispered

Healthy Church - Members feel empowered (4:31) and share power with one another
Unhealthy Church - Members or leaders use power and control over others.

Healthy Church - Assemblies are dynamic; Inspiring worship (2:43, 4:23-31)
Unhealthy Church - Assemblies are dull, predictable and boring

Healthy Church - Thinking and questioning are encouraged (18:26)
Unhealthy Church - Thinking and questioning are discouraged.

Healthy Church - Obedient to God (4:19)
Unhealthy Church - People pleasing

Healthy Church - Members trust other members and leaders, or at least they openly express any lack of trust. (5:1-11)
Unhealthy Church - Mistrust is evidenced by an undercurrent
of unexpressed hostility.

Healthy Church - Culturally relevant while remaining doctrinally pure (17:16-34)
Unhealthy Church - Fixated on doctrine and uses out-of-date methods.

Healthy Church - Goals are clear and specific (1:8) and shared by the members - the church is lead to meet goals.
Unhealthy Church - Goals are fuzzy, abstract, and general.
Members have unclear personal goals or no goals at all.

Healthy Church - Most members feel a sense of inclusion, and excluded members are invited to become more active (2:44)
Unhealthy Church - Many members feel excluded and cliques are formed - there is fear of expressing feelings of being left out

Healthy Church - The leadership functions are shared by the group; people feel free to initiate activities and be creative (6:1-7).
Unhealthy Church - There are power conflicts among members and leaders. Creativity is discourage.

Healthy Church - Large group assemblies and small group sharing (20:20)
Unhealthy Church - Large group and middle size group only. Small groups are viewed with suspicion.

Healthy Church - Sin is confessed (19:18)
Unhealthy Church - Sin is hidden and rarely confessed

Healthy Church - Members give their money generously 4:32-37) – the leaders are accountable and open in the way they handle funds
Unhealthy Church - Members are not charitable - the leaders are secretive and unaccountable.

Healthy Church - Organizational structure is functional and flexible (6:1-7). Gift-based ministry.
Unhealthy Church - Organizational structure in inflexible and dysfunctional. Haphazard ministry

Healthy Church - Needs-oriented evangelism (1:8)
Unhealthy Church - Evangelism is rare - few people are saved

Healthy Church - Cooperates with other churches in ministry (21:18 & 24:17)
Unhealthy Church - Isolates themselves from other churches - exclusive and sectarian.

Healthy Church - Cohesion is high; there is a close emotional bond among members. Members share with each other (2:44-45).
Unhealthy Church - Division exists; people feel distant
from one another. There is a lack of caring and empathy.

Healthy Church - Organized ministry for the poor (6:1-7)
Unhealthy Church - No organized outreach to the poor

Healthy Church - Men and women are free to pray and prophesy (1:14, 2:17, 4:24, 21:9)
Unhealthy Church - Women and young girls are excluded from full participation in assemblies & small groups

Healthy Church - Loving relationships permeate every aspect of the church ( 20:36-38)
Unhealthy Church - Members are distant from each other

Healthy Church - Conflict among members or with leaders is recognized, discussed, and often resolved (6:1-8, 15:1-30 & 36-41)
Unhealthy Church - Conflict or negative feelings are ignored, denied, or avoided.

Healthy Church - Passionate spirituality (18:28)
Unhealthy Church - Lack of enthusiasm - low morale

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