Every church is healthy to some degree and unhealthy to another. Health is a spectrum with no perfectly healthy or perfectly unhealthy church. Every church can in fact get healthier, but there are signs your church might be generally unhealthy. Here are three possible signs your church might be generally unhealthy:
High Confusion and Politics.
Patrick Lencioni notes that health occurs when confusion and politics are removed. Clarity is essential to church ministry but hard to find in most church settings. Confusion creates an environment of fear, anxiety, and distrust. Politics create an environment of gossip, manipulation, and a struggle for power. These things are never healthy in any organization, especially a church.
Toxic Behavior is Permitted
Every church has conflict, issues, and problem members. Unhealthy churches are churches where toxic behavior occurs more frequently and is permitted. Unhealthy churches often make excuses for toxic behavior like ‘that is just how Karen is.’ The easy way to know if a behavior is toxic is to ask if it would be permitted in any other environment or if it would be seen as normal behavior outside of the church.
Healthy People Step back and Unhealthy People Step Up
A sure and clear sign that your church is generally unhealthy is when there is a pattern of healthy people leaving the church or stepping back in terms of involvement and attendance. Similarly, when unhealthy people start to get more active and influential, it is a sign that your church is unhealthy. In churches, people are always coming and going for different reasons. Are those who are toxic moving in or moving on?
Any church can get healthier. Outside of the work of God through the Gospel health trumps all in the church. Where do you see signs of health and unhealth in the church?
Rev. Dr. Marcus J. Carlson, Executive Director