Healthy Church Challenges

Equipper asked several pastors and ministry leaders around the world the question: What is your greatest challenge for healthy church? Answers were edited for space. It is our hope these answers might inspire discussion among your leadership teams.

Our ageing congregations and scarcity of young adults and children.
– Jackie Mills, UK

The greatest challenge we have faced on the way to becoming a healthy church is having the focus turn from what today’s society considers a healthy church to be (fancy buildings, large attendance, exciting live worship performances, all kinds of programs and events to keep people busy) to what we should be as Jesus has called us to love this world and share the glorious message of the gospel. – Terry McDonald, US

I think the greatest challenge is the lack of a missional rhythm. More than making new disciples, mission helps a congregation find its purpose. It keeps a church healthy by causing the congregation to continually seek God’s discernment for how we should “be the church” today.  Participating in the work of Jesus Christ in one’s own [neighborhood] keeps the congregation from being to inwardly focused, and inevitably stagnant. – Dishon Mills, US

One challenge is maintaining the patience and perseverance on the part of the leaders and teams to go through the process, because it will take time. Another is managing the load of people, since we deal with volunteers who are serving in the avenue teams on top of their day jobs or vocations. – Aron Tolentino, Philippines

The greatest challenge is making sure that we as a congregation are all on the same page and have the same goals. There have been many challenges and divisions facing us, but if we focus on doing the work of Christ, we can manage some of the hurdles that we face. – Linda Sitterley, US

Helping members overcome fear, propaganda, and re-engage in the life of the church. – Bill Winn, US

Making God’s love the priority within the church (1 John 4:19). Loving with a true and sincere heart. Loving without procrastination or hypocrisy. Finding innovative ways to reach people and share the gospel. Make the gospel real in the everyday life of young people in the faith. – Marie Angelique Picard, France

Greatest Challenge:  compensating for and countering the effects on believers of the stony ground and the thorns in Jesus’ parable of the sower – the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, desires for other things, peer pressure and persecution for their faith/beliefs. – Marty Davey, US

Finding new people for our members to love and share the gospel in deed and word. Many have small circles of influence – especially during COVID. We need to put love into action in our community in a consistent way and trust the Holy Spirit to make kingdom connections. – Anne Stapleton, US

Time and change. Making healthy decisions for a congregation, especially in a timely manner for community engagement, usually means change. And change is hard even when it is necessary, desired, and in motion. – Carrie Osborne, US

Discerning what the Spirit defines as a heathy church as opposed to what people define as a heathy church.  – Charles Young, US

The greatest challenge for healthy church (GCI vision) is how we can cascade what “healthy church” is all about to our local church members. – Justine Paolo G. Parcasio, Philippines

Our greatest challenge at this time is getting our meetings off Zoom and finding a suitable meeting place for our church to meet in person.  [We need to find] a community that God has prepared for us to go out into that community and demonstrate and express his love for them. – Cella Olive, US

Motivating volunteers to serve in leadership positions. Members are convinced that they can’t do it or that they don’t have what it takes. Changing this mindset is my greatest challenge. – Grant Forsyth, US

Keep trusting in Jesus, and not to try to impose our will instead of waiting on him. The challenge is to keep listening to the lead of the Spirit, and to follow his lead. – Bob Regazzoli, Australia

Because the church is a spiritual organism, the challenges are spiritual. I believe when members are moved by the reason for their calling, the understanding of who God is, by being “compelled” by the love of God, the challenge of resisting God’s leading will be diminished and ministry will become a joy. – Bermie Dizon, US

Reengineering our paradigm from a dominator model. – Bart Baril, US

Breaking out of an inward and upward focus primarily to more fully participate outwardly too, especially since members are mostly unable to be living in the community in which they worship together. – Bharat Naker, Australia

Division. Our culture has been so ingrained within us that we divide ourselves into small boxes thinking that is who we are. Politics, sexual orientation, gender are three current methods the world is using to divide us and make us think less of others. – David Howe, US

Putting everything into a relationship with Jesus and keeping our focus on him; he never lets go.  – Kirk Hayden, US

Changing the mindset of members from “pay and pray” to one where they accept their identity as disciples of Jesus Christ with a responsibility to actively participate with him in the work he is doing. – Kenneth Barker, US

Getting members to believe: God can and will work through all of us for his purposes, as well as to think beyond what we can see in the physical.  – Tamar Gray, US

Getting members to take the time to participate in the life of the church. Busy lives and work pressures get in the way of meaningful engagement in the church. A small percentage of the membership tends to carry the load for the church. – Danny Zachariah, India

Consistent member participation in the process of discipleship through relationship. – Charles Taylor, US

To recognize what the Lord is actually doing and surrender to his will, rather than attempting to bend his will to ours. Every congregation has its own God-given passions and gifts, and the Lord works with them in a unique way. – Luciano Cozzi, US

Editor’s Note:

What challenges are you facing? We all face challenges as we work toward healthy church, but please don’t be discouraged – you are not alone. When Jesus gave us the great commission in Matthew 28, he put two important bookends around that commission. The first is to remind us who he is: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” The second bookend is just as important: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The commission is also an invitation to join him in what he is doing, to participate in the work he said he would continue to its completion. Jesus gave us two vital words to keep in mind as we work to be the heathiest expression of church we can be. He said, “Follow me.” It’s our best course of action.

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