How to Tell Difference Between Healthy and 'So Many' Unhealthy Churches: Pastor Tim Challies

Tim Challies
Tim Challies of Grace Fellowship Church in Canada in a YouTube video on February 15, 2018. |

Pastor Tim Challies has laid down a number of markers that can determine what a healthy church looks like, in the face of many unhealthy ones.

Challies, who pastors Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, and often gives church advice on his social media pages, noted in a Facebook video on Monday that there are "so, so many unhealthy churches."

He said he received a reader question about how one can "evaluate the spiritual health of a congregation," but warned that there are no really objective ways, such as modern star-ratings that people have become accustomed to.

The pastor noted that some people talk about the size of their church, or the number of baptisms and the size of the budget as possible indicators of success, but argued that one needs to look at subjective factors when deliberating the question.

"We have to allow the Bible to point us to what the Bible's values are, what God values, and then say, 'is our church matching that?'"

Challies said that one marker concerns how many people are coming to Christ.

"Are you seeing people come to faith from outside of the church? There's a lot of churches that have a ton of internal growth, but very little external growth," he warned.

"We want to be a church that is fulfilling the Great Commission and seeing people come to Christ."

Secondly, he said it should be considered whether people are coming to faith from the inside.

"There are some churches that are so outward focused that their own children are being neglected, not coming to Christ," he said.

Next, he asked: "Does your church generally resemble the community it's within?"

He pointed out that often times, there are wealthy churches in poor areas of the city, or white churches in black parts of the city, and vice versa.

"I think that one of our ideals as Christians is if possible, in so much as it depends on us, we would want our churches to reflect our community. Because that shows we are reaching out to the people around us. God has put us in geographical locations, hopefully we are reaching out to the people around us," Challies said.

He continued: "Does your church love the word of God and obey the word of God? When they think about life, when they have to think about doctrine, are they thinking 'what does the Bible say? How can I live according to the word of God?'"

The Canadian pastor suggested that another important factor is whether churches are united in mission.

"Do the people in your church like to be together? If they don't, that probably means disunity," he added.

"A body doesn't want to be disjointed, it wants to be together. Does your church like to worship? Do they like to be together so they can engage in community worship of God?"

Finally, he asked:

"Does your church love to pray? We need praying churches, and I fear we have so few praying churches. Are they praying through the week? Is your church gathering to pray? Is prayer instrumental, rather than supplemental?"

In past blog posts, such as one from May, Challies also talked about how to tell the difference between truly Christian churches and those he defined as "Christianish" ones.

"There is nothing better for your spiritual well-being than to be in a Christian church. There is nothing worse for your spiritual well-being than to be in a Christianish church," he wrote at the time.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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