The books on how to build a healthy church are flying off the printing presses these days. Seminaries are holding conferences and consultants are finding fertile fields for their congregational therapies.
I do not have a set program–and precious little expertise, probably–on restoring the health of a church so much as I have a heavy burden for it.
I’ve served all kinds of churches and been used of the Lord to restore the health of at least two. As you surely know, the Lord never likes to waste experience.
I’ve seen the damage sick churches can inflict in a community and want no more of it ever again. An unhealthy church can destroy the reputation of Jesus Christ throughout its area of influence. An unhealthy church perpetuates itself by bringing up a new generation of wrong-headed members who spread their poisons to other congregations.
An unhealthy church turns people against the truth and inoculates them against the overtures and ministries of a healthy, normal church.
An unhealthy church sucks the life out of missions by cutting off its support of missionaries in order to keep themselves afloat to the bitter end.
Recently, a pastorless church asked me to come for a “renewal weekend.” Now, that term can mean anything, but the leadership was clear on what they had in mind.
They said, “We are not inviting the community to this. They’re certainly welcome, but we’re not ready to have a harvest time. We need to get ourselves straight.”
They sent me a number of subjects such as unity, health, effective evangelism, and leadership in order to guide my prayers and planning.
Rather than the sanctuary, we would hold all but the Sunday morning session around tables in the fellowship hall. They would serve lunch at noon and refreshments in the evening. The attire and the approach would be strictly informal.
We met twice a day, at noon and at 6:30 pm, for three days, Thursday through Saturday, and concluded with the Sunday morning service.
I’m not going to try to encapsulate here what we covered in seven sessions, except to lay out the general plan. My heart’s desire, you will not be surprised to learn, is for three or four more churches to invite me to do something similar. I’d like to do this until I get the hang of it, working the rough edges off the material, and then turn it into something of lasting benefit to other churches.
Here is the layout of the seven sessions.