Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Church Vitality

The most recent issue of Outreach magazine focuses on church health and vitality. One of my favorite writers, Bill Easum (Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers; Go Big: Leading Your Church to Explosive Growth) wrote an article called "Vital Signs." I try to read anything Bill writes. Whether he's writing a book or a brief article, he never sugar coats stuff. That's why I like him.

He states that church health boils down to six traits: biblically grounded, culturally relevant, exists to transform lives, mobilizes and equips the laity; a community built on trust; structured to grow disciples.

Ouch! The problem, he cites, in most churches is that one or more of these traits is lacking or absent. Or it could be that the church doesn't know how to measure these traits. Easum takes each trait and offers a brief synopsis of how a church can measure it. Ouch again!

I'll mention the first two in this blog, then finish it up in a second one.

1. Biblically grounded: I thought of the six that maybe we did pretty good on this one. But the measuring question Easum poses got me wondering if we do a good job of this or not. He says the way this trait is measured is by observing how decisions are made. Here is the measuring rod: "Do prayer, discernment, and the scriptures guide your leaders in their decision making?"

2. Culturally relevant: CBC tries to be. But then again do we? Easum talks about the importance of exegeting the community and then making sure that all ministries evolve out of that exegesis. Here is the measuring rod for this trait: "Do all of your ministries have their origin in the hopes, dreams and needs of the surrounding community of nonbelievers?"

3-6 next time.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Church Vitality (2)

Bill Easum states that good church health boils down to six traits. I posted the first two in a previous blog (biblically grounded, culturally relevant). Here is the continuation of his thoughts.

3. Exists to transform lives: Easum notes that this is the easiest trait to measure. How many adults are getting baptized, and how many spiritual giants are being discipled and sent into significant arenas of ministry? Also, are leaders disappointed if a week goes by without someone giving his/her life to Christ?

4. Mobilizes and equips the laity: Is 80 percent of the congregation engaged in some type of weekly or monthly ministry? And, is the staff's role primarily to equip others for ministry versus doing ministry? Then Easum asks a couple of probing questions. "Who does most of the ministry at your church--the staff or the laity? When people need their spiritual needs met, do they go to their small group instead of the pastor?"

5. A community built on trust: To measure this trait, observe how quickly, without much fuss, decisions can be made; new ministries can be established; and the expected behavior of the leadership. "Can any one or two people in the congregation derail something that most people want to see happen? Do you trust your leaders when they make a decision, even if it is controversial?" (Admittedly, we have digressed in this trait. And our staff pastors are determined to regain a high level of trust with the congregation.)

6. Structured to grow disciples: Mormons grow so rapidly because they are structured for growth. "Does your church eat, sleep, and dream about making disciples?"

I firmly believe we are in the beginning stages of a new day. We all long for a vitally, healthy church. These six traits provide us with a helpful measuring stick as we move forward.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."