If we want to be a healthy church, we must heed the warnings of the Bible. Don’t stop doing the good things that brought you to this point. Here are ten action words, I believe describe a healthy church. All the Scripture references are deliberately chosen from the Old Testament so you can see how the Old Testament can also guide and teach us. These words cry out: “Don’t Stop!”
1. Praise – Do we understand and appreciate the God we serve? “To all who mourn, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning and praise instead of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3) Praise is our way of submitting to God’s authority.
2. Prayer – Do we pray regularly as individuals and as a church? “…he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room and prayed just as he had always done.” (Daniel 6:10) Prayer is recognition of God’s authority and our willingness to listen for guidance.
3. Open – Are we open to growth opportunities, new people & ideas? “Then the Lord told Abram, “Leave your country! I will make you a blessing to others. So, Abram departed as the Lord instructed. (Genesis 12:1-4) Listening to God’s voice often requires change.
4. Hospitality – Do we genuinely welcome God’s people? “You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.” (Psalm 23:5) Anointing means to provide honor and protection so genuine hospitality has to be more than a smile and polite, “How are you?”
5. Obedient – Will we be obedient to God’s purpose? “The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey.” (Joshua 24:24) We all fit in God’s master plan. As individuals and as the church we are called to be obedient to God’s purpose for our lives.
6. Alert – Will we notice the unique growth opportunities God offers? “Intelligent people are always open to new ideas. In fact, they look for them.” (Proverbs 18:15) Organizations and people all around us are facing challenges and difficulties. Are we alert to the opportunities available?
7. Assertive – Will we aggressively with faith pursue those opportunities? “Don’t worry about a thing,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight Goliath.” (1 Samuel 17:32) Sometimes we must face Goliath size challenges to fully appreciate God’s awesome power.
8. Risk – Every opportunity also has a cost. Are you willing to pay? “God will rescue us but even if he doesn’t, we will never serve your gods.” (Daniel 3:17-18) From changing careers to giving up your lunch hour for a Bible study there is risk and a cost involved with growth.
9. Persistent – Will we hang in there when the going gets tough? “Look! I am going to breathe into you and make you live again! (Ezekiel 37:5) Facing and overcoming obstacles is a normal part of growth. God breathes life into us to strengthen us for the obstacles ahead.
10. Thankful – Do we give thanks to the One who is so critical to our success? “Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4) What a shame after coming so far not to stop and say, “Thank you!”
I believe these ten words faithfully describe God’s teaching for our churches. The last two years during the pandemic have been a roller coaster ride filled with many ups and downs, but we struggled together to serve God. Our reward has been the opportunity to witness many miracles including lives changed within our churches, community, and even other parts of the world.