I came across a booklet that outlined seven marks of a healthy congregation. How do you think we fare?
1. Energized by faith. Rather than just keeping things going or trying to survive our worship moves us to experience God’s love. Our motivation comes from a desire to serve God and one another. We are engaging and nurtured by Scripture and faith in Christ.
2. Outward-looking focus. Rather than a focus on “church life” we focus on a “whole life.” We are deeply rooted in the local community, working in partnership with other denominations, faiths, secular groups and networks. We are passionate and prophetic about justice and peace, locally and globally.
3. Seeks to find out what God wants. We are focused on discerning the Spirit’s leaning rather than trying to please everyone. Our vision is shared with the whole group. Our priorities set both immediate and long-term goals. We are able to call for, and make, sacrifices, personal and corporate, in living out the faith.
4. Faces the cost of change and growth. Rather than resisting change and avoiding failure we dare to take on new ways of doing things. We embrace the past but we take risks, admit when things are not working, and learns from experience. We respond creatively to challenges that face the church and community.
5. Operates as a community. Rather than functioning as a club our relationships are nurtured, so people feel accepted and are helped to grow in faith and service. Leadership, both lay and ordained work as a team to develop appropriate expressions of faith. The different gifts, experiences and faith journeys of all are valued and given expression in and beyond the life of the church.
6. Makes room for all. We are inclusive rather than exclusive. We welcome and include newcomers into the life of the church. Children and young people are helped to belong, contribute and be nurtured in their faith. Enquirers are encouraged to explore and experience faith in Christ. Different social and ethnic backgrounds, mental and physical abilities, and ages, are seen as a strength.
7. Does a few things and do them well. We are focused rather than distracted. We do the basics well, especially public worship, pastoral care, stewardship and administration. We are relaxed about what is not being done.