I have been interested in developing healthy churches for a very long time. I have seen some slight movement toward facilitating health in a few congregations but frankly I am not sure health is a very high priority for most Christian leaders.
Developing healthy churches is dependent upon facilitating healthy interpersonal relationships in the staff, elders, deacons and members. The kids in Sunday school will not likely become good communicators and good at caring for each other is the Sunday school teachers do not model those things. And, even if the teachers are excellent at interpersonal relationships, when the kids go home to chaos, conflict unbridled and miscommunication exponentially growing, how can the kids live healthy lives?
The church is a system of systems; a family of families. It is the sum total of all the family systems that are congregating. Here is my definition of the goals of church members:
A desire to learn how to work out all the problems and conflicts they have not been able to work out on their own at home. Husbands and wives bring to a marriage all the un worked issues carried over from childhood. Those issues are poured into the congregation with the high expectation that God, the Minister and the Elders will help the people get well, healthy or at least better.
This sets us up for grave disappointments. So, when we set the Ministers up on a high pedestal of expectation, they have a very long way to fall when they cannot deliver. But no human can deliver healing so it is unfair to set the Ministers up that way. Yes, but it happens every Sunday.
So, what shall we do? Teach the skills of healing, growth and change to every single member. Teach personal responsibility and how long it takes to bring change. Teach about mercy and grace for self and others. Teach every member how to listen and listen and listen. Teach every member how to take every thought captive. Teach them how to stop all that Stinking Thinking.
Every member needs to be trained to rest in Christ and stop all the performance nonsense.
It is not easy but we can make some steps toward healthier living. Why wait? Start now!