Give your church a health check

Apparently, the first step on the road to recovery is to deal with the issue of denial. So if you drink excessively, you need to admit you are an alcoholic, not simply a heavy drinker. The same would be true if you are taking drugs or gambling your money away.

Today I need to ‘fess up’. My name is Gary Gibbs and I am fat. Actually, it’s worse than that: according to the Government health watchdog I am obese.

Now I can find lots of ways of rationalising my weight issue:

  • I’m ‘big boned’
  • It’s an age thing
  • All the travelling makes it difficult to eat healthily
  • It’s my family genes

The truth is that unless I face reality and practically address the challenge, nothing is going to change in any positive sense.

Whew! Confession is good for the soul: time will tell whether it’s going to be good for my body!

As you know, one of the clearest metaphors used in the New Testament to describe the church is that we are The Body of Christ. I wonder whether sometimes we are in denial about the health of this Body to which we belong.

You see, just because a church is big doesn’t immediately mean it’s healthy; it could simply be fat! Similarly, a small church could actually be doing very well if they are ministering in a small town or rural setting: a church of 50 members in a town of 10,000 may be more influential than a church of 1,000 in a city of a quarter of a million (I think my maths is correct!).

There are all sorts of ways to measure church health and numbers attending is only one of them. On a broader scale, based out of Ephesians 4:11 and onwards, here are several questions we could be asking ourselves concerning our corporate health:

  1. How apostolic are we?
    In other words, to what degree are we moving outwards as God’s people and taking ground? In practice this would mean that we are seeking to pioneer new churches in neighbourhoods, networks, towns and cities.
  2. How prophetic are we?
    How is the word of the Lord being heard and demonstrated by our corporate lifestyle and our proclaiming of the heart of God? Being prophetic is so much more than ‘having a picture’ on Sunday morning: it’s also about us being a ‘city set on a hill’ whose light shines through our good works and our voiced insistence that the best way to live in God’s world is God’s way! When we choose to serve the poor and marginalised through Food Banks, Street Pastors, International Missions; when we speak out against injustice and oppression; then we are being a prophetic people.
  3. How evangelistic are we?
    A friend once made this deep statement, “Doing it is doing it!”. So, a gentle challenge to my fellow leaders…are we doing it? Are we equipping our people for ‘works of service’ and then facilitating them in effective outreach to their neighbours, friends and workmates? And, are we evaluating our activity? What does not get measured does not get done!
  4. How pastoral are we?
    Thank the Lord for Pastors! We need some on our leadership teams who both care for the flock of God but also seek to bring those they care for to maturity. Oh, and the other role of a ‘good shepherd’ is to go after lost sheep!
  5. How theological are we?
    In other words, how well are we revealing God to those we lead and influence? My presumption is that the better we teach the church, the more they will love and serve the Lord; theology is all about knowing God!

My suggestion is that a Four Square Gospel undergirded by a Five Fold Ministry will cause the Body of Christ to be fitter, stronger, more flexible and ultimately much larger without being obese!


Gavin is CEO of The Evangelical Alliance and Chair of Spring Harvest and Anne is associate Pastor of a local church.
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With over 40 years in full-time evangelism Rev Gary Gibbs has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom sd director of REACH, Elim’s church planting and evangelism department.
Gary Gibbs suggests that the current challenge of the coronavirus, which is perhaps the greatest challenge for the Christian church in living memory, could become a great opportunity.
Gary Gibbs argues that we need to rethink how we measure the effectiveness of our churches

Additional Reading >

Future Events

Saturday 27 June 2020 10:00am

Could you plant a new Elim church? Discover what's involved at Elim’s National Church Planting Day which has the theme ‘Gospel Planting’


Saturday 26 September 2020 10:00am
Speakers include Dr Rachael Jordan-Wolfe (Assistant Direcotr of Hope), Mark Greenwood, Gary Gibbs, Dave Wellington. Tickets £15 from
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