My fourteen-year-old son grows like a proverbial weed. Scratch that; he grows faster than a weed. It is now a matter of weeks before he passes my tall, lanky frame with his soon-to-be taller, even-lankier frame. I am about to lose my 23-year-reign as the tallest member of our family. And when Quincy grows past me, I will from that day and forever after be 2nd place in the contest for family height. (What can I say? I’m a guy; everything is a contest.)
But that sure beats the alternative. I would much rather he would grow past me than not grow at all. I would rather he reach 6’5″ than stay the same size he was when he was 5 or 6. I know he’s healthy because he keeps growing – and because he keeps eating, and eating, and eating…
The truth is: growth and health go hand-in-hand. Whether you are a parent watching your child mature, or a teacher guiding a student, or a employer training a new worker, you want to see growth. You need to see growth. That’s how you know the person is healthy.
Isn’t the same thing true when it comes to our faith journey? The healthiest among us are the ones who keep growing; who aren’t content to sit still – or, worse yet, regress. Spiritual health is seen in my growth, as I continue to learn, to listen, to love. As I use my spiritual muscles, I become more and more like Jesus. And isn’t that the best way to measure growth?
And if that is true of me and you as individuals, can’t we say the same about us as a group (that is, the Church)? If I am healthiest when I am growing, isn’t the Church also healthiest when it is growing?
But truth is, sometimes that is hard to measure. I can chart my son’s growth; all I have to do is look at him and notice that I no longer have to lower my head to look him in the eyes. Soon I will be looking up to him. Growth, for Quincy, is very easy to measure – it’s seen in the swivel of my neck.
But measuring growth in church isn’t so simple. It’s not just a matter of knowing our ABCs (attendance, building, and cash). Those are helpful tools, sure; but often the way to truly measure growth is more difficult than that. In his article, The Measure of a Church, Will Thomas suggests five ways to gauge church health. All of his recommendations are good, because all of them point beyond simply measuring what we can count on our fingers.
At the end of the day, what matters is not how often we sit in a pew or how much we put in a offering plate, but are we changed by what we hear? Do our lives look different? Are we transformed by what we say we believe? And does that impact others?
In short: are we followers of Jesus who help others see what it means to follow Jesus?
At Fern Creek Christian, we have begun a new series, Discover Your Mission Now. But it is more than a series; it must be a way of life where we aren’t measured simply by what we attend or what we give, but by how we live. And healthy, growing followers of Jesus are people who live on mission – with Jesus, for Jesus, for a world that needs to see him live through us.
So, how healthy are you?
One thought on “What a fourteen-year-old boy has in common with a healthy church”
All I can say is, “Ouch,” and “Good information.” Maybe I should say, “Ouch,” again… Good thing life’s a journey and mine isn’t over yet – there’s still some time to fix some of this!