The Attributes of a Healthy Church

What makes a healthy church? That is what every believer who cares about their local fellowship wants to know. As I mentioned last week, we can get an idea of how healthy our church is by looking all the way back to the first century when the church, as a whole, was at its healthiest. In Acts 2:42-47, we have a succinct summary that gives us a vivid picture of what that first church looked like. This picture lends itself well to comparison whereby we can determine how well our 21st-century churches stack up against the church in the 1st century.
Last week, we discovered from verse 42 that a healthy church is first one where the word of God is the lynchpin. In that 1st century church, the word of God, otherwise known as “the apostles teaching,” was their lifeblood. It informed everything that they did and how they did it. They were not looking for new revelation, a more innovative message, or a more palatable spin on the gospel. When they came together for fellowship, breaking bread, and prayers it was apparent that they were devoted to what they had been taught by the apostles.
Today we turn our attention to verse 43 and part of verse 47, and we see that a healthy church is also one that is well thought of by outsiders. Verse 43 reads, “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Also part of verse 47 says that they had “favor with all the people.” It is clear from this summary that the first church in history was making a sizable impact on the community around them.
The apostles, those who had been with and were sent out by Jesus, were so full of faith and confident in the power that He bestowed upon them that they were able to do many signs and wonders in His name. They were simply trusting in the promise that He made in John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do…” Because of their belief in Christ, the Apostles were able to perform the same types of miracles that Jesus performed on the earth.
A quick survey of the book of Acts will show that through the first century church and the Apostles who led them- the lame were made to walk (3:7-11), the sick were healed (5:12-16), prisoners were set free (5:19), the blind received sight (9:17-18), demons were cast out (16:18), and even the dead were raised back to life (9:39-42). Is there any wonder why “awe came upon every soul?” Is there any wonder why they had “favor with all people?”
When assessing the health of your own local church consider this question, is your church making an impact? When was the last time you saw someone be raised from the dead? I am kidding. Even the healthiest church of our time lacks the faith necessary to perform such a miracle. Even if your church is not giving sight to the blind or raising the dead, there should be some measurable impact on the world.
If tomorrow your church ceased to exist, how many people would miss it? How many people would go without a gospel witness? How many orphans would go uncared for? How many widows would go unvisited? How many hungry strangers would go unfed? A church that is not reaching out and making an impact on the world around them is a church that has become a social club. It is a church that is sick; one that has lost its vision.
When Jesus established the church, He declared that “the gates of hell would not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). That is precisely what we see in the book of Acts, Jesus’ church storming the gates of hell. We see her prevailing over all the forces of evil causing awe to fall on outsiders and leading them to show favor to believers. Many outsiders would become believers themselves.
Are similar things happening in your church? Is your fellowship of believers making an awe-inspiring impact on the world? Is your church winning the favor of outsiders? If not, then look to God for a vision. Ask Him to show you how to be an agent of change.