Church Health, Then Church Growth

"Our objective ought to be church health, not church growth.  A vital or healthy church is marked by spiritual vitality, functional effectiveness, and statistical growth in its life and ministry." - Ken Brown

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't disagree with the overall point. Prioritize the biblical idea of church health.

On this though...

While forms cannot be absolutized, the functions that we are to perform are very clear in the Word of God. Jesus gave the two overarching functions of the Church in the Great Commission, evangelism, and edification:

E & E isn't adequate for summarize the church's assigned functions. The Great Commission is to make disciples which includes both of those. They're really one thing. And it's clear from the OT + numerous NT passages that worship and fellowship are not secondary to disciple-making. So, the shortest way I can think of to boil it down is to sa that the function of the church is to be a community of worshiping believers who make disciples. This also has "the beauty of three" going for it: fellowship, worship, disciplemaking.

This isn't just packaging... though I acknowledge there are lots of good ways to summarize the purpose of the church and how the pieces fit together. But the way we summarize is a powerful influence on what we do. It's vital that don't neglect worship and community.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ken Brown's picture

Hi Aaron:

For what it's worth, I see evangelism and edification as the two main objectives of the Great Commission, with each carried out by various means.  For edification, it's accomplished by education, worship, and fellowship.  So, I agree that worship and community are essential, but as ways by which the church edifies.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm certainly glad it's all there! I'm mostly reacting to a lot of ministries that have undervalued worship and community in the life of the church. But I do think that how we say it contributes to or resists that tendency.

I know there's a long-standing tradition of seeing the Great Commission as more defining for church life than pretty much anything else in the New Testament. There are some reasons for that. It's not an accident that the GC is positioned where it is at the end of Matthew and Mark and again, essentially, at the beginning of Acts. But there are lots of ways to mishandle the emphasis. I really think that GC is a means to an end, the end being the praise of the glory of His grace, to pull from Eph 1. The end is greater than the means, and recognizing that helps us not undervalue worship and fellowship/community... and other ways God's glory is served.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Ken Brown's picture

Yes, I certainly agree.  Well said.