The book of Hebrews was written to the church! Thus, we can search its depth for the unchangeable answers to a question all church people should be asking: How can my church be healthy?
The last chapter of this incredible book gives us a very straightforward description of exactly what a great church will look like. How does it act? What image does it portray? I would suggest that you take the following list and compare it to your church. How closely does it match up to what God has defined for us?
11 Signs of a Healthy Church
1. Brotherly Love
“Let brotherly love continue” (13:1)
A healthy church will be a place of fondness, where fellow believers experience the joys of relationship and fellowship.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality, for by doing so some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it” (13:2).
A healthy church will be hospitable. Think of your church as a "hospital." Hospitals don't turn people away, they don't demand money, and they don't judge anyone who comes in for help. They just provide it!
3. Remember fellow believers who are being persecuted or mistreated
“Remember those in prison, as though you yourselves were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (13:3).
This refers specifically to those who are suffering for the cause of Christ. We should feel their pain, even as though we ourselves are suffering.
4. Strong homes and families
“Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers” (13:4). A healthy church will be a place where marriages and families are valued, supported, and nurtured. And when our families are tested, we stand with them, offering healing and forgiveness.
5. Be content in what you have
“Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, ‘I will never leave or abandon you’” (13:5).
A healthy church will learn to be content with what God gives them. Don't be envious of the big church down the road, or the church that has more stuff. Praise God for what He has given them and do likewise with what He has given you. This applies to individual believers as well, as Christians should be content with that which God has blessed them.
6. Respect and submit to leaders
“Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you; Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable to you” (13:7, 17).
A healthy church respects both leaders who have gone before (vs. 7) and leaders who are currently serving (vs. 17). Pastors/teachers have an awesome responsibility to God for what they do, so follow them for their benefit (joy) and yours (avoiding the unprofitable).
7. Make Christ the center of all things
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8). A healthy church remembers that Jesus never changes, so our main goals should never change. While some things do (like air-conditioned rooms and songs), the core point of every ministry and activity should be telling the unchanging message of Christ. He is the Rock and the Foundation!
8. Seek to do good
“Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices (13:16). Healthy churches make an impact on their communities, investing in relationships, providing for physical and spiritual needs, and demonstrating the love of Christ in tangible ways, even when that comes at a cost.
9. Be steadfast in good doctrine
“Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings…” (13:9).
A healthy church will never, ever stray from the basic message of salvation through Christ alone. The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus was that perfect Sacrifice that paid for the sins of man, once and for all. No matter what topics or passages we teach and preach, healthy churches always point people toward Christ.
10.Worship God Sacrificially
“Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name” (13:15).
A healthy church understands that worship is about much more than singing for 20 minutes on Sunday morning. Yes, the fruit of our lips includes singing and praising, but we must also remember that every word from our mouth ought to demonstrate our complete devotion to the Savior. Every aspect of our lives should be spent in worship, or service, to God (see Romans 12:1).
“Pray for us, for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything. And I urge you all the more to pray that I may be restored to you very soon” (13:18-19)
A healthy church understands that prayer is essential. Here, we see prayers for spiritual needs (vs. 18) as well as personal and physical needs (vs. 19). At every level, healthy churches are filled with great people of prayer as they undergird the ministry of the church and the spiritual vitality of its members.
The key to all of this is to understand that the church is not just a building, but a collection of people. The more we as individual church members put these things into practice, the more our church begins to resemble what God prescribed. Want to have a healthy church? Read the Word and apply it! The book of Hebrews was written to the church! Thus, we can search its depth for the unchangeable answers to a question all church people should be asking: "How can my church be healthy?" The last chapter of this incredible book gives us a very straightforward description of exactly what a great church will look like. What does it do?