All healthy living things grow automatically. You don’t have to do a lot more than to keep them healthy. The reverse is just as true; unhealthy ones won’t. Ill health depletes energy, stunts growth, and may even cause fatality.
Similarly with the church; because the church is a living thing (the Body of Christ). Hence, church health is strategic to church development. The question then, is: What must we do to ensure that our church is in good condition?
The church must work on its health. If it is not healthy, whatever we try to do will fail. At best we may experience transient euphoria but without long-term results. However, if we work on the health of the church, especially in the critical areas, we will see lasting results and growth.
In the study of church development, church health is not a new concept. Megachurch pastors like Rick Warren (Saddleback, Purpose Driven Church [PDC]), church consultants like Christian Schwarz (Natural Church Development), and church growth proponents like Peter Wagner have long been advocates of church health. However, it has not been taken very seriously by Malaysian churches. It is not well understood and has hardly been incorporated into our churches’ DNA, structure and strategies.
A church may have adopted the PDC model with its five purposes including its development process from Membership to Missions and its strategy to take people from Community to Core. However, it fails to realise that the underlying concept of PDC is about being a healthy church. It may incorporate one or more of PDC components. But the objective is to add or replace existing programmes, and not because the leaders think that it will contribute to the wellbeing of the church. There must be a paradigm shift. We must first think “church health”. Then, we look at what we need to do to improve the condition of the church.
(An excerpt from Before ER: A Call to Church Health by Lim Soon Hock)