Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Restoring health to an unhealthy church

The rationale behind the resolution on integrity in church membership is that too many of our churches are spiritually sick and ready to die. Indeed some of them may already be dead but simply haven't bothered with having a proper funeral, yet.

Over the next two weeks or so I intend to offer some thoughts on principles of restoring health to an unhealthy church. Several people have asked me to address this topic here as questions have arisen about the serious problems that plague many of our modern evangelical churches. I have been somewhat reluctant to make such an attempt for several reasons.

First, every church situation has its own unique challenges and opportunities. This means that there is no "one-size-fits-all program" that can be recommended to pastors and church leaders. In fact, there simply is no program for church renewal. Those who suggest otherwise betray how detached they actually are from local church leadership.

Second, good people disagree on approaches to this subject and I have no desire to cast aspersion on what some are teaching on matters related to church reformation.

Third, the pursuit of ecclesiological health is never-ending. Any effort to talk about this subject in a definitive way tends to cloud that reality. Though I do think we can speak in general terms of healthy vs. unhealthy churches, it is more precise to speak of more healthy vs. less healthy ones.

With those caveats delineated, here are six questions on church reformation and renewal that I plan to address over the next two weeks.
  1. Why attempt it?
  2. What is the goal?
  3. What principles should guide you?
  4. Where do you start?
  5. What should you expect?
  6. How do you persevere?
I am in my 22nd year of pastoring Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida. Though we have much, much further to go in our efforts to follow Christ and grow in His grace, the Lord has lovingly taken us down a long road and through some rough patches in our pursuit of spiritual health. He has also taught us some very valuable lessons along the way. Some of those lessons might be of use to fellow pastors and church leaders.

Many others have travelled this same path in other local churches and I hope that their insights will be offered in the comments of these posts. A growing number of younger pastors and students are committed to pursuing this kind of ministry and I hope that some of them will offer their reflections and questions as we dialogue about this vitally important issue.

6 comments:

Brian Hamrick said...

on the path, brother, on the path...

Has the Lord ever given you stories to tell!

irreverend fox said...

brother Tom,

this series will be particularly helpful for the church planters, like myself, who read your blog.

as Ben Franklin once said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure..."

Tom said...

Brian:

That's one of the benefits of growing old...you accumulate lots of stories. Another is that you forget more than you remember!

Irrverend:

I have learned a great deal from other people's experiences, so I hope I can spare some twisted ankles by pointing out where a few of the potholes are along the path.

ta

lordodamanor said...

You're right ta to point out that there is no Miracle Max cure and the history of the church is that it has for the glory of the Lord always been weak, weaker, weakest, but then so His power is made perfect in that very thing.

General principles can be culled out of Scripture and those gleanings integrated. However, we are a band of many peoples of many tribes and sizes of feet. Thanks for letting us know there are good shoes but not all are the same size.

lordodamanor said...

follow up

rich said...

I am looking forward to your comments. Our church is a "less healthy" church that is in a place right now to start answering those questions. I feel God putting us back on the tracks. Thanks for your ministry. It really is appriciated.