Why Be Healthier?

What a silly question. Nobody plans to be sick. (Some hypochondriacs may miss some attention and sympathy if they were healthy.) Health is much more than the absence of sickness. I asked my doctor to define “health.” His answer was, “optimal functionality.” God is the One who gives life to everything (I Timothy 6:13) and every form of life must be healthy in order to do what God intended – including the living organism called the church. 
Some would answer the question by saying… 
…I want to avoid the pain and aggravation of sickness.  
…I want a strong immune system to fight disease.  
…I want to live longer.  
…I want to cut down on doctor bills.  
…I want to do all the things I desire to do. 
Hopefully, every Christian would say…I want to glorify God with my body. 
Relate this to the Church—The Body of Christ 
“Mega churches” thrive because they are large. Many other churches are in a survival mode – hoping to keep the doors open and the bills paid. But, there is a third group that, from my observation, makes up 50-60% of evangelical churches. They are somewhat healthy but, with relatively little time and effort, they could become much healthier and more productive. Yet, they choose to be satisfied with the status quo. 
In recent years, much more emphasis is being given to church health. Rick Warren, in his book Purpose-Driven Church, wrote, “I believe the key issue for churches in the twenty-first century will be church health, not church growth. Focusing on growth alone misses the point. When congregations are healthy, they grow the way God intends.” God is raising up many people and organizations to come along side of churches to help them become healthier. 
Still, the majority of our churches experience less than fullness of health. Many churchmen have stated that 80-85% of churches in America are either plateaued or declining. Over 80% of those that are growing are growing primarily by “transfer growth.” Less than 3% of the churches in America are growing by “conversion growth.” Over half of the churches did not receive even one new member last year as a result of that person being converted. 
Maybe it is time we go all the way back to asking this fundamental question: “Why be healthier?” Begin thinking more about health than growth. God’s kind of growth comes as a normal result of being healthier. How healthy is the church you serve? How do you know? Is it as healthy as it can be? The universal answer to that question is “NO!” So, begin to take steps in a process of becoming healthier. Maybe it is time for an evaluation – something like a doctor’s physical exam for the Body of Christ. Doing an objective analysis, with the help of an “outside assistant,” is the least painful way of sensing a “painful urgency” necessary to do something about the health of the local church you serve. 
Rev. Fogal is the Church Health Director for the Western Pennsylvania District and a Church Health Specialist with Church Health Service. Please visit his web site at http://www.churchhealthservices.com


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