100 Days to a Healthier Church

A Step-By-Step Guide for Pastors and Leadership Teams (Moody)

100 Days to a Healthier Church: A Step-By-Step Guide for Pastors and Leadership Teams
(Moody, 2020)

WHO: Karl Vaters, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California.

HE SAYS: “Healthy change can be your new normal. Health carries its own momentum—the momentum of hope.”

THE BIG IDEA: Churches can shed unhealthy patterns by following deliberate steps for 100 days.

THE PROGRESSION:
The book begins with “Before the 100 Days,” lays a foundation for what the plan will be in the next 100 days. The next section, “Step 1: Assess Your Situation,” explains why churches need to keep God and prayer at the center of their mission and how to go about shifting the culture shift the culture.
“Step 2: Select a Target” teaches how to consider and narrow their options and pick a project.
“Step 3: Train the Team” encourages church leaders to expand their leadership circle, adjust the plan and get ready for the future.
“Step 4: Implement the Plan” guides churches through brining it all together, practice and adapt, have a launch weekend, assess the changes, then have a celebration weekend. “ After the 100 Days” suggests churches build on their strengthen, manage the letdown and plan for the next 100 days.

“Getting healthy isn’t about numerical growth. It’s about striving to increase our capacity for effective ministry no matter what size we are now—or what size we may become.”

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A CONVERSATION WITH KARL VATERS

How can churches become healthier when how they do church has changed so radically?

Actually, the ingredients for church health are one of the few things that hasn’t changed at all during this crisis. The church was birthed during a time of crisis, after all. Certainly, we need to adapt to a whole new set of methods, but methodology has never been central to the mission. The underlying principles of church health – namely, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission – are more essential now than ever. How we make disciples will always be a greater reflection of a church’s health and vitality than how well-produced our online video content is.

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What inspired you to write this book at this time?

I wrote 100 Days to a Healthier Church before anyone had heard of COVID-19. But I did so because I’m constantly talking with small church pastors about how their church can overcome a time of crisis – whether it’s recovering from a church split, renewing an aging congregation, restarting under a new pastorate, or something else.

In those church recovery talks, I always drew from my own experience in which we took our congregation through five different times of renewal. Four of those recoveries were big, and two of them were calamitous situations that might have caused some churches to close their doors for good.

The timing of the book release seemed horrible, since it corresponded to the first wave of coronavirus. The last thing I wanted to do was go into “book promotion mode” when people just needed our help, so I set it aside. But then, as I talked with other pastors, I realized that the steps in the book were designed to do what a lot of churches are going to need over the next months and years—a biblical roadmap to recovery, refreshed ministry, and healing.

Are the ways to become healthier different for small churches versus large churches?

The short answer is no. And yes.

First, the “no”. Whatever size a church is, health is measured by how well we’re helping people get closer to Jesus and to each other. That’s the essence of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Now the “yes”. The way we help people get closer to Jesus and each other will differ according to size. Imagine it as a relational continuum. The smaller the church, the more the relationship between the pastor and the members will be directly relational, while the bigger the church becomes the more it will be indirectly relational.

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In smaller churches, the pastor will know more of the church members personally, while the bigger the church gets, the more the personal touch will be delegated to others. Those are two very different skill sets. And not everyone can adapt from one to the other.

What matters isn’t whether-or-not every member is known by the pastor, but that every member is known. That their gifts are used, that they’re growing in faith and that they’re becoming disciples who make disciples.

What do you think the church will look like after the pandemic ends?

I think we’re heading for at least six months – possibly a couple years – of hybrid church, a situation in which our buildings will open in limited ways under strict protocols, but not fully. As difficult as is it now, this coming hybrid situation may prove even harder in many ways. It’s clear what we need to do now – stay at home. As restrictions are lifted, clarity will be harder to find. It will be like having one foot on the dock, one in the canoe. Shaky, even hazardous.

In these situations, our default should not be “what are we allowed to do?” but “what should we do?” That answer will vary from church to church, size to size, region to region, and leader to leader.

Churches that insist on a specific mode of operation will be in trouble. Those that stick with the mission, while being flexible on the method will have the best chance, not just of surviving, but of being a bright light of hope in their community.