Time for a checkup
by Don Morris
I just received a notice in the mail from my primary care physician telling me that it is time for me to come in for a complete physical examination. I hate complete physicals. They take me way out of my comfort zone. I can do without all the questions, tests and prodding. It's even worse if the doctor finds something wrong, because then I have to do something about it. Or at least I should do something.
Church health checkups are somewhat the same. When a church takes a good, honest, in-depth look at its health, the results can be enlightening. And challenging. And may even require some radical lifestyle changes.
On a personal level, I could easily let several years go by without checking in on my health. I'm comfortable. I think I'm okay. But maybe that’s not really true. And that's why the doctor ends up prescribing some medications; everything isn't quite as good as I think or hope it is.
Likewise, it's easy for us in our congregations to let time slip by without really checking to see how we're doing or to understand why certain things are happening that cause us concern. Things like why we haven't baptized very many new believers in the past two years. Or why the youth group is smaller than it used to be. Or, maybe we wonder why we don't see as many visitors as we did back in the mid-90s. Or, gulp, why haven't I led anyone to Jesus in the past, hmm, I don't know, zillion years?
We need checkups, both on a personal level and for our churches. That's why I, along with our district ministers and other district leaders, have been talking about how we can enhance our national church health program.
What would a congregational health check include? The first step in a church checkup would be to take a church-wide survey to obtain people's perception about the health of their church. The program would also utilize several trained consultants from our Mennonite Brethren constituency who would spend quality time with a church, exploring, discussing, dreaming, praying and strategizing.
Overseen by the U.S. Conference, this national church health program would be designed for churches of all stages of health, growing or struggling. It would be for large churches and small churches, city churches and rural churches.
So, you may be getting a letter in the mail sometime soon saying, "It's time for a church health checkup." If you call us back, we'll make an appointment!
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