A Healthy Church

Sometimes I am asked the question what is my vision for Houston Lake Presbyterian Church? If the person asking that question is looking for answers that involve number of members, size of staff, or size of facility, they will be disappointed in the answer they receive. What is our vision? I want to take a few weeks here in News & Notes and re-affirm what we want to be about as a church.

Let’s first acknowledge that every church is different. Churches exist in different contexts such as urban, rural, or suburban. Within those settings the makeup of the community itself will differ. We in Houston County enjoy a mix of suburban and rural. Add to that the military context of RAFB and the corresponding industries associated with it and that creates some uniqueness. Along with those demographics, churches differ according to the gifts of the pastor, leaders, and the congregation at large. Every church is different and a big part of ministry is understanding your context.

Having said that, I’m of the opinion that all churches share in the same basic vision. The challenge is to apply that vision to your specific context. All churches should be about pursuing the glory of God and His purposes. He desires that His Church bring Him glory through worship and the sacraments, that His Church proclaim the gospel faithfully and make disciples of all nations. I”ve always been helped by the words “reach” and “equip” that were a part of my ministry with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF). We need to be reaching out with the gospel through the faithful proclamation of the Scriptures and equipping God’s people for life and ministry.

To that end, we want to be a God honoring congregation. Put another way, we want to pursue church health. Healthy churches want the things God wants. Healthy churches seek to honor Him and His Word in all that they do.

Years ago there was a lot of talk about the church growth movement. Some, desiring to grow their churches, embraced all manner of worship styles or outreach efforts without regard for any Biblical or theological reflection. The reaction in some quarters to this movement was to reject any talk of church growth at all. Church growth talk was equated with pragmatic, man-centered ministry.

I believe we should want to see the Church grow (not just HLPC, mind you, but all churches that faithfully proclaim the Word of God). We should want to see the gospel spread and see more and more people come to know and trust Christ and be enfolded into the Church. Healthy churches will promote growth but in the right way. Healthy churches will pursue those ends that should result in growth but not pursue growth as an end in itself. Growth will not always be numerical, but church health will promote church growth.

This begs the question, “What is a healthy church?” We’ll save that for next time.