In the New Testament, the church can be referred to as the “local” church or the “universal” church. The local church is a place where assemblies of believers come together at a particular location and time. The universal church refers to the body of Christ. Many churches believe that they are healthy because they have a certain number of people on their membership roll. Healthy churches measure their spirituality according to God’s Word.
This paper seeks to convey that healthy churches are measured in spiritual terms versus numerical terms; follow biblical instead of cultural patterns of ministry; are based on theological instead of sociological foundations; focus on ministry not a marketing model; and adopt scriptural not secular models of leadership. This will be done by examining Kenneth Gangel’s discussion on the different marks that can be used to gauge a healthy church in his article “The Marks of a Healthy Church.”
According to Kenneth Gangel, in his article “The Marks of a Healthy Church,” he seeks to “explain the characteristics of a healthy church using the measurements of the spiritual, biblical, theological, ministry model, and scriptural model of leadership.” To accomplish this Gangel cautions spiritual leaders not to get caught up in measuring church growth in numerical terms. They should accentuate the holiness and sovereignty of God through Bible study, worship, prayer, praise, and fellowship. In following biblical instead of cultural patterns, churches do not feel compelled to stay “up with the times” or get hooked on religious fads and slogans. Churches should not push alot of programs and believe that they are right just because they are successful.
They would do well to check them and their success against the Word of God. Gangel also wanted spiritual leaders to ensure that they are paying attention to the true vigor or teachings of biblical theology and not get caught up in sociological perceptions of what the church should be. They should seek God’s plans for the church and tune out outside influences.
A healthy church seeks to remain spiritually effective by following the ministry model of the “Great Commission” according to God’s grace, authority, and resources. Churches must never use the marketing or worldly model of seeking resources to accomplish their goals. Spiritual leaders will have trials and be scrutinized; but they should never take on a secular form of leadership in order to deal with these trials. They must pay attention to the essential functions of guiding and leading a healthy church.
Gangel has taken an in depth approach to explaining what constitutes a healthy church. He seeks to make clear that spiritual leaders have to use a biblical approach to assessing church growth or a healthy church. Some of the theological issues that I have found to be at stake in the article are the beliefs that church growth is an indication that the church is growing according to what God has mandated for the church.
Church growth should always be evaluated to ensure that the growth is occurring for the right or biblical reasons. The other theological issue is making sure that the spiritual leader and the church are not conforming to the world and its way of doing things. The Bible is the road map that has been given to the spiritual leaders and the church to ensure that they do not go wrong or spiritually off course.
Gangel’s opinion that the church should not get caught up on spiritual fads and slogans is backed by John F. MacArthur’s warning that the abandonment of the scriptures as a regulatory principle has opened the church to some of the most detestable of abuses. These abuses include bringing in secular artist into worship services, a sideshow with a carnival theme, and wrestling shows. Gangel is prompted to write about this subject because he was noticed and read about churches hinging their spiritual health on numerical terms of growth instead of biblical terms.
His goal is to enlighten and warn the church to make sure they are using biblical measurements in determining the spiritual health of the church. The author has done an exceptional job in proving his thesis, that there are biblical marks or measurements of a healthy church. Gangel’s key strengths in this article are the five biblical marks that he has used to compare to the secular tenants that society likes to use. As he was explaining the five biblical marks of a healthy church, I wish he would have addressed what happens to a church that follows the tenets of society.
This paper has critiqued the article “Marks of a Healthy Church.” The author’s discussion in this article clearly lets us know that church should use caution when it comes to evaluating its growth. The marks that should be used to assess the health of the church are spiritual, biblical, theological, ministry model, and scriptural model of leadership. Everything that the church does should be checked by the Word of God.
After reading this article, someone may make the claim that the church should do what it has to in order to reach the unbeliever. In my opinion, we as believers are not to let down our beliefs in what God has commanded us to do in order to reach an unbeliever. By all means, we can use Godly tools to witness to them where they are.
Enns, Paul.The Moody Handbook of Theology.Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008.
Gangel, Kenneth O. 2001. “Marks of a Healthy Church.”Bibliotheca Sacra,no.158 vol.632
(October – December). http://galaxie.com/article/5724 (accessed October 15, 2012).
MacArthur, John F., “How Shall We Then Worship?” in The Coming Evangelical Crisis,ed.
David Wells (Chicago: Moody, 1996), 181
[ 2 ]. Paul Enns, The Moody handbook of Theology, Revised and Expanded (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008), 257 [ 3 ]. Gangel, Kenneth O. 2001. Marks of a Healthy Church. Bibliotheca Sacra 9, no.28 vol. 632 (October – December). http://www.galaxie.com/article/5724 (accessed October 15, 2012). [ 4 ]. Ibid., 468.
[ 5 ]. Ibid., 469.
[ 6 ]. Gangel, 470.
[ 7 ]. Ibid., 474
[ 8 ]. Ibid.
[ 9 ]. Enns, 359-360.
[ 10 ]. MacArthur, John F., “How Shall We Then Worship?” in The Coming Evangelical Crisis, ed. David Wells (Chicago: Moody, 1996), 181 [ 11 ]. Gangel, 467-468.
[ 12 ]. Ibid.