Rick Warren: Balance Is the Key to Church Health

“A far better focal point than church growth is church health. Big isn’t better. Small isn’t better. Healthy is better.”

Church health is the result of balance.

Balance occurs when a church has a strategy and a structure to fulfill the five New Testament purposes for the church: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship and ministry.

If you don’t have a strategy and a structure that intentionally balances the purposes, the church tends to overemphasize the purpose you as a pastor feel most passionate about.

We tend to go to seed on one truth at a time. You attend one seminar and hear that the key to growth is small groups. At another, it’s volunteer recruitment, or dynamic worship, or creative outreach, or strong preaching.

The fact is, they’re all important.

When a church emphasizes any one purpose to the neglect of others, that produces imbalance—it’s unhealthy. And being unhealthy stunts a lot of churches.

To keep things balanced, four things must happen. You’ve got to:

*move people into membership
*build them up to maturity
*train them for ministry
*send them out on their mission.

And you need a clear discipleship process to be able to gauge whether you’re doing these things effectively or not. Just as our vital signs tell us whether our physical bodies are in good health or not, the health of a church is quantifiable. For example, I can measure how many more people are involved in ministry this month than last month.

How you accomplish those four objectives doesn’t matter. As long as you are bringing people to Christ, into the fellowship of his family, building them up to maturity, training them for ministry, and sending them out in mission, I like the way you are doing ministry.

Health does not mean perfection. When a church focuses on evangelism, it brings in a lot of unhealthy people. My kids are healthy, but they’re not perfect. There will never be a perfect church this side of heaven because every church is filled with pagans, carnal Christians and immature believers—along with the mature ones.

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Rick Warren

Rick Warren, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church and the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life. He built the Purpose Driven Network, a global alliance of pastors from 162 countries and hundreds of denominations who have been trained to be purpose driven churches. He also founded Pastors.com, an online interactive community that provides sermons, forums and other practical resources for pastors. Rick Warren and his wife Kay are passionate about global missions and what he calls “attacking the five global giants” of poverty, disease, spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership and illiteracy. His solution, The PEACE Plan, is a massive effort to mobilize Christians around the world into an outreach effort to attack these problems by promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation.