We all know the church is compared to a human body in Scripture. (If you don’t know please read 1st Corinthians 12:12ff) So if the church could get a check-up like our bodies what vital signs would be read?
The Obvious– like blood pressure and temperature, these are the most easily seen vital signs in any church:
· Attendance- Hebrews 10:25 has been the basis for a bunch of sermons over the years. The numbers do not lie. Attendance is a sign of the health of a church- and not just on Sunday mornings. Sometimes more can be diagnosed by looking at the vitals during the other meeting times. But just as with high temperature, low attendance often is only symptomatic of something more disturbing.
· Contribution- Once again, there is usually more than meets the eye going on with this vital. A church with a robust, hearty contribution demonstrates that the body is in very good shape.
· Conversions/Additions- This is the third tangible which can be measured relatively easily. Is the church evangelizing? Are people being added to the body?
The Intangibles– These are as not readily seen, but are just as crucial to the overall health of the body as the more obvious vital signs. These are harder to gauge and measure, but a healthy church must have healthy:
· Involvement levels- Any body will break down and deteriorate if that body is not supported by its normal functions. Part of Paul’s teaching in the Corinthian context is the essentiality of every part of the body/church functioning at optimum level. Bottom line- are you involved in consistent, meaningful, spiritual work within your church? For it to be healthy- you must.
· Leadership- Of course, the head of the body, the church, is Christ. From this overall standpoint our leadership is extremely healthy. Practically speaking, however, God has entrusted the health of the local church to us. Churches with excellent vitals are lead by visionary servant-leaders who encourage creativity, initiative, freedom, accountability and growth within the body. Oppressive, heavy-handed leadership usually stunts growth and can lead to a dysfunctional body with weakening vitals.
· Spiritual Food- Every body needs nutrients. The church is no exception. A consistent and balanced diet of the grace and truth of the Word of God is a must if a church is to develop and grow in God’s direction. Any inconsistency or imbalance can do much damage to the overall vitals of a church and weaken its ability to make any difference in its community.
· Interaction- or fellowship. Our human bodies are marvels. Each sinew and muscle is connected to another to support our skeleton which protects our essential organs- all being feed by an intricate following blood system which… well you get the picture. How about our churches? Again I reference Paul in 1st Corinthians- we need each other if the overall body of Christ is to be healthy. The more fellowship we enjoy the stronger our vitals will be.
The health regime for the strongest church possible begins with me and my personal spiritual vital signs. The church is only as strong and healthy as I am within it.