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Where has the “church health” movement come from and where is it going to? Influential writers on this subject, such as Gene Getz, John McArthur, Mark Dever and others all seem to have different understandings of what, exactly, constitutes a healthy church. Theological perspective and practical pastoral experience will shape one’s understanding of church health. There may be some overlap with regard to core elements among some writers but no two lists of healthy characteristics will look exactly the same.
Many people, in a variety of disciplines, have tried to define health. One dictionary definition is, “physical and mental well-being, freedom from disease, and normality of physical and mental functions.” A thesaurus lists, “…vigor, wholeness, fitness, robustness, stamina, and wellness.” In 1974 the World Health Organization defined health as, “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.”
While definitions of physical health may prove useful in defining church health, the main source of a definition must be the Bible. Non-biblical principles can add important ideas, but the foundation of the definition must be Scripture itself.
In The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren said that “the key issue for churches in the twenty-first century will be church health, not church growth.” Warren believed that focusing on church growth alone was wrong. He added, “When congregations are healthy, they grow the way God intends….If your church is genuinely healthy, you won’t have to worry about it growing.”
In 1972, Ray Stedman briefly discussed the subject of church health in his book, Body Life. In his chapter entitled “Keeping the Body Healthy,” Stedman wrote:
No athlete spends all his time running races or playing the game for which he is trained; he must also spend many hours keeping himself in shape and developing his skills to a high degree. So it is with the body of Christ. The work of the ministry will never be properly done by a weak and unhealthy church, torn with internal pains, and wracked by spiritual diseases.
At the conclusion Stedman added, “A healthy body is necessary to do effective work.”
In 1973 Donald McGavran and Win Arn addressed the subject of church health in their book How to Grow a Church: Conversations about Church Growth.
Three years later C. Peter Wagner proposed seven vital signs as a gauge of a healthy church in his book, Your Church Can Grow: Seven Vital Signs of a Healthy Church. However, while Wagner mentioned church health in his book, his primarily emphasis was church growth, not church health.
Over the next two decades, numerous books and articles continued to be written on church growth. Church health became a forgotten subject. A renewed emphasis on church health began with the publication of books by Dan Spader and Gary Mayes (1991) and Leith Anderson (1992). Soon other books dealing with church health were published by Rick Warren (1995), Christian Schwarz (1996); Mark Dever (1998) and Steven Macchia (1999) Since then numerous authors have written about church health. However, these writers have kudos because their works were/are seminal
However, in spite of the availability of many books on the subject, there is no universally agreed, comprehensive definition of church health. There are a diverse range of definitions and criteria for evaluating church health but no dominant consensus. It is surprising that many works about church health omit any treatment of the Words of Jesus to the seven churches in Asia Minor. These chapters in the book of Revelation speak directly to the very core of the matter and are critical to a proper understanding of what constitutes a healthy church. Furthermore, a lack of rigorous research has created principles of questionable value and conflicting ideas. The current confusion over the definition of a healthy church hinders the effectiveness of the movement. Conservative, traditional, attraction churches have their understanding of what constitutes a healthy church and anything that deviates from that is viewed with suspicion. New expressions of church, such as seeker-centered (perhaps not so “new” now), emerging and missional gatherings reject conservative, traditional, attraction models as antiquated and irrelevant.
It might be helpful to see the issue in terms of engineering and architecture. There has to be some observance of structural principles, but there has to be liberty to express creativity in the functional design.
Sociological Factors – Church Context
In discussing church growth and decline, David Alan Roozen and Jackson Walker Carroll noted that church membership change did not occur because of one single cause. Rather it was produced by “a complex pattern of multiple and often interacting factors.” In the book Understanding Church Growth and Decline, Dean Richard Hoge and David A. Roozen edited one of the first serious efforts to study the impact of contextual factors on church growth using modern research methodology. The context of a church could influence church growth in positive and negative ways.
For example, in the Indian cultural context today the gospel has an egalitarian appeal to those who are of lower caste (such as the Adivasi) or, indeed, outcasts (Dalits). The ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity belong rightly to the gospel, though usually associated with the republican principles of the French Revolution. Whereas those who are in the higher echelons of the caste system (Brahmin) are not attracted to the gospel in such significant numbers. Whereas the former groups (Adivasi and Dalits) have much to gain in terms of dignity and status, the latter group (Brahmin) have no tangible social incentive and so the gospel is less attractive to them. Similar sociological forces may well have an influence on whether one is attracted to or repelled by the gospel. This may be evident in the rejection or retention of colonial forms of church. It is worthy of note that the kind of evangelical exclusivity of Western culture has not found fertile soil in India. The church there is almost universally prone to what Western evangelicals might call “syncretism”.
One of the first books that addressed “church health” was How To Grow a Church: Conversations about Church Growth written by Donald McGavran and Win Arn in 1973. The subject of church health was introduced briefly in chapter four, “Diagnosing Church Health.” Responding to a question by Arn, McGavran noted that church health, “…is like a doctor diagnosing the sickness of a patient. Until he knows what the disease is, how can he prescribe a cure? Until the church diagnoses the difficulty, how can the problem be remedied?”
In 1977, Charles Chaney and Ron Lewis commented on the analogy of medicine and church health by stating:
In medical terms, a diagnosis is the determination of a disease by a comprehensive examination of the patient. Accurate diagnosis is the foundation of modern medicine. Proper treatment is only possible when the cause of an illness is known … Comparable procedure is necessary to determine the growth health of a church.
Chaney and Lewis proposed a number of tests to identify areas of growth-disease and growth-health, including, numerical growth and type of growth. The notion of growth has both quantitative and qualitative dimensions; the latter was not always emphasized. In his book, Your Church Can Be Healthy Peter Wagner expanded McGavran’s and Arn’s idea that church health meant the absence of disease.
One of Wagner’s axioms of church growth was a “church must not have a terminal disease.” Wagner noted that sometimes churches in changing communities declined. This happened when people in a new cultural group began replacing the previous majority group of another culture. When a community became more culturally diverse many of the older group moved to another location. At first, the people in the older group commuted to the church but eventually joined other churches in their new communities. Churches in rural communities can decline simply because people leave the community for education or employment and fewer people take their place, so sociological factors are not unimportant.
While the perspective of church health being the absence of disease may be useful, this idea has several problems. First, a negative definition makes a poor definition. Leith Anderson noted, “…if we insist on defining health in terms of illness, we will be malady-centered” rather than health centered. Second, the definition is derived from a sociological rather than a biblical viewpoint. A condition that a sociologist may consider terminal may not be when viewed from the perspective of God’s power. Third, Wagner made little effort to connect the Bible with his diseases. A study of the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation could provide a picture of church disease from a more spiritual perspective.
A healthy Family
The late Murray Bowen popularized the application of systems theory to family therapy. In summarizing family systems therapy, Jerry Corey and Jim Bitter wrote:
The family systems perspective holds that individuals are best understood within the context of relationships and through assessing the interactions within an entire family … It is revolutionary to conclude that the identified client’s problem might be a symptom of how the system functions, not just a symptom of the individual’s maladjustment, history, and psychosocial development … The one central principle agreed upon by family therapy practitioners, regardless of their particular approach, is that the client is connected to living systems and that change in one part of the unit reverberates throughout other parts … The family therapy perspective calls for a conceptual shift, for the family is viewed as a functioning unit that is more than the sum of the roles of its various members.
Bowen’s ideas have proved useful to understanding how churches operate. One of Bowen’s students, Edwin Friedman, applied family systems theory to ecclesiastical institutions. Steinke used family systems theory to develop a better understanding of church health. Ronald Richardson also related Bowen’s theory to church health in his book Creating a Healthier Church. He wrote, “One of the keys to functioning in a healthy manner as a church is for the leaders to look at the church as a system rather than as a collection of isolated people.”
From a family system perspective, people react differently to emotional situations according to their context. A lack of awareness of the church as a family system could cause a congregation in times of conflict to focus on symptoms rather than the more complex systemic issues. Richardson noted that two biological life forces interact within every congregation – the togetherness force and the individuality force. The togetherness force drove people to want to be connected to others within a church. The individuality force drove people to become their own unique persons.
For Richardson the biblical passage of 1 Corinthians 9-13 served as one example of how Paul sought to balance these two forces. On the one hand, Paul called for unity within the church while also emphasizing that there was “one body but many members.” There is diversity in the body of Christ. Unity is not uniformity and “interdependence” better describes the relationship of believers rather than “independence.”
Using scriptural examples throughout his book, Richardson demonstrated how family systems theory could benefit the church in terms of resolving conflict, understanding the dynamics of church life and in setting goals. Family systems theory provided a framework for understanding the dynamics within churches. While not directly derived from Scripture, the model expressed biblical concepts that could be useful in developing healthy churches.
Robert Logan believes, “Effective churches are healthy churches; healthy churches are growing churches–they make more and better disciples.” Through his own trial-and-error process of leading churches to growth, Robert E. Logan proposed ten principles for developing effective churches. These are:
- Visionary faith and prayer
- Effective pastoral leadership
- Culturally relevant philosophy of ministry
- Celebrative and reflective worship
- Holistic disciple-making
- Expanding network of cell groups
- Developing and resourcing leaders
- Mobilizing believers according to spiritual gifts
- Appropriate and productive programing
- Starting churches that reproduce
In 1977, Steven Macchia developed a list of ten characteristics of a healthy church. These are:
- God’s empowering presence
- God-exalting worship
- Spiritual disciplines
- A learning and growing community
- A commitment to loving and caring relationships
- Servant leadership development
- An outward focus
- Wise administration and accountability
- Networking with the body of Christ
- Stewardship and generosity
Macchia’s research involved developing an intuitive list of healthy church principles based on one hundred church visits. He surveyed 1,899 “highly committed Christians” participating in his annual conferences. This enabled Macchia to rank the characteristics according to their degree of importance and relevance. It was based upon the participant’s opinions about the desirable and effective attributes of healthy churches. Macchia developed survey instruments for measuring a church’s health, suggestions for guiding church group discussion and additional scriptural references for the ten health characteristics.
Leith Anderson, proposed six signs of a healthy church:
- A church that glorified God.
- A church that produced disciples who seriously sought to obey the commandments of God.
- A church where members were involved in ministry based on their spiritual gifts
- A church that is
- A church involved in evangelism – a church that assimilated new people into the life and leadership of the church.
- A church that was open to change – a church that trusted God.
Several survey instruments have been developed to measure church health. However, most developers of church health instruments have provided little or no evidence for reliability or validity. One exception was Christian Schwarz. In 1996 in his book Natural Church Development, he presented a novel method for studying church health. He classified churches according to a quality index. In explaining his procedure, Schwarz wrote:
There is an unspoken assumption in the church growth movement that “growing congregations” are automatically “good churches.” But is this equation accurate? We can find a great variety of statements on this subject in church growth literature, but in the end they are no more than opinions and hunches. The reason is simply that while quantitative growth in a church (size as well as growth rate) could be measured with a certain degree of accuracy, a reliable procedure for measuring qualitative growth with objective, demonstrable criteria was not yet available.
Seeking to solve this problem, Schwarz proposed a measure of church quality called the “quality index” (QI). This index was based on eight quality characteristics:
- Empowering leadership – church leaders who concentrated on preparing others for Christian ministry.
- Gift-oriented ministry where Christians served according to their gifts.
- Passionate spirituality, i.e., a situation where members lived committed lives and practiced their faith with joy and enthusiasm.
- Functional structures, i.e., an organization that easily responded to new situations.
- Inspiring worship.
- Holistic small groups, i.e., groups that ministered to the needs of its members.
- Need-oriented evangelism, i.e., evangelistic outreach based upon members who had the gift of evangelism.
- Loving relationships, i.e., where church members sincerely supported each other through church-sponsored events both inside and outside the church.
Schwarz’ research was a serious statistical study but it has been critiqued.
In an article entitled “Theology and the Healthy Church,” Paul Robertson wrote, “The church that fails to let biblically based theological reflection inform her identity and practice risks the danger of either sinking or losing her way in the storms of life.” Scripture must be the primary reference for a definition of church health. It is important, therefore, to take account of the words of Jesus to the seven churches of Asia Minor, recorded in Revelation 2 and 3.
Biblical Models of Healthy Churches
Several authors have developed lists of healthy church characteristics by studying churches found in the New Testament. This is firmer ground than observational studies of contemporary churches; care must be exercised to ensure the selection of truly healthy churches. Ken Hemphill says:
As long as the church dealt with methods, models, and marketing strategies, the church would only be treating the symptoms of the illness that is robbing the church of its vitality.
As long as we continue to talk about symptoms, we will persist in thinking we can heal the sickness with another new program, method, or model … The critical issue is that the supernatural empowering of the church which occurs when the church dwells in right relationship with its Head, Jesus Christ.
Numerical growth constitutes only part of the measure of a church. Maturational growth involving the deepening of relationships and the transformation of culture must be an indication of health. In light of the Great Commission, Hemphill defined church growth as occurring, “when the local church supernaturally and faithfully fulfills the Great Commission in its unique context and with a vision for the world.”
From his study of the church at Antioch, Ken Hemphill developed eight principles the church of God used then. He suggests the twenty-first century church ought to continue to use these same principles:
- Supernatural power.
- Christ-exalting worship.
- God-centred prayer.
- Servant leaders.
- Kingdom family relationships.
- God-sized vision.
- Passion for the lost.
- Maturation of believers.
Body of Christ
Paul used the church as a body metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 to teach three important church health principles. First, he emphasized a multiplicity of tasks where each member supported the work of the whole. Second, every member needed to be involved in the work of the church if the church was to function in a healthy way. Third, church members functioned according to their spiritual gifts and not according to vacancies in an organizational structure.
The question, “Who is our master?” constituted one of Rick Warren’s three questions regarding church health. Warren suggests that Jesus Christ must be the Lord of a church in order to be considered healthy. According to Warren, rule by tradition, personality, finances, programs, buildings, events and seekers – characterizes unhealthy churches.
In his book The Measure of a Church, Gene Getz wrote that the mark of a mature church was not being an active church, a growing church, a soul-winning church, a missionary-minded church, a smooth-running church, a Spirit-filled church or a big church. Instead, Getz said the essential quality of a mature church was love. A reading of the words of Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation corroborates this.
Rick Warren said that he stopped using the term “church growth” around 1986, “…because of things that he did not like about the church growth movement.” His reasons included, the incessant comparing of churches, the tendency to be more analytical than prescriptive and the inadequacy of numerical growth to gauge church heath. He said, “You don’t judge an army’s strength by how many people sit in the mess hall. You judge an army on the basis of how many people are trained and active on the front line.” In a chapter in his book, The Purpose Driven Church, entitled, “The Foundation of a Healthy Church,” Warren said, “If you want to build a healthy, strong, and growing church you must spend time laying a solid foundation. This is done by clarifying in the minds of everyone involved why the church exists and what it’s supposed to do.”
Warren centered the purpose of the church around five purposes or functions found in Acts 2:42-47, worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship and service. He believes that church health results from a balance of the five purposes of the church. He emphasizes, “Health is a result of balance … When a church emphasizes any one purpose to the neglect of others, that produces imbalance–unhealth.”
Healthy Church Characteristics
A healthy church is a Bible-believing church. A church understands its culture and context. A healthy church is one where the connectedness and uniqueness of each member is valued. A healthy church is a praying church, empowered by the Holy Spirit. A church equips its members for ministry, and evangelism. A healthy church is a loving, caring, worshiping, unified church. A healthy church will have exemplary leaders. It will be a disciple-making church with empowering leaders. It will be servant-led and visionary. A healthy church will facilitate opportunities for every member to explore, test and develop their gifting. It will seek to fulfil the Great Commission and live according to the Great Commandment. A healthy church is an authentic community that consists of the redeemed and transformed and as such is an agent of transformation under the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. In short, a healthy church is biblically based, spiritually dynamic, mission focused, and servant led. A biblical foundation (as distinct from a sociological perspective) for diagnosing the health of the church is essential.
Before turning to the words of Jesus to the seven churches of Asia Minor, it will be necessary to consider an interpretive approach to the book of Revelation. However, before doing that it will be helpful to look at the words of Luke recorded in Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Here is a simple biblical model of a healthy church, albeit sparse in detail, which may be, supplemented from Revelation chapters 2 and 3 as well as other passages of Scripture.
Four activities are listed here. They are four elements, which characterized a Christian gathering in the early church. The Christian church is a guardian or custodian of the truth and needs to be diligent in proclaiming that truth without fear or favor. Many today desert the truth of Scripture and disown it because it does not suit them. We should note that the early disciples ‘devoted’ themselves to the apostles teaching. They are an example to us, as we too should be committed to understanding the instruction of God’s Word and earnest in applying it to our lives. John Stott says, ‘the Holy Spirit opened a school in Jerusalem that day; its teachers were the apostles whom Jesus appointed; and there were 3,000 pupils in the kindergarten!’
We must not think that doctrine is dry or divisive. Our faith is not just a mystical experience that disdains theology. It is not just a shared experience. Our faith is based on a body of divinity that is apostolic and historic. The fullness of the Holy Spirit and a close adherence to doctrine are linked. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth. The early disciples did not say, “We have the Holy Spirit so we can dispense with all earthly teachers.” On the contrary, they eagerly received instruction. The teaching of the apostles has come down to us in the form of Scripture. ‘Devotion’ to the apostles’ teaching means submission to Scripture in all matters of faith and practice. A Spirit- filled church is a church that studies Scripture and submits itself to its teaching. The Spirit of God leads the people of God to submit to the word of God. These were not merely four characteristics by which the early church was distinguished. They are four characteristics by which any church may be evaluated.
The Soul of the Church
Have you ever asked yourself what a true church is meant to be like? Here is the answer. It starts with teaching, which Calvin called the, ‘soul of the church’. Wherever the pure voice of the gospel is heard and where there is growth through the Word, there you have a healthy church. Here is something vital to which we need to devote ourselves. It is part of the developing life of the Christian. Imagine being a devoted football fan without watching or attending the games, knowing the club/team history, discussing their progress, defending their honor or wearing their colors. Too many Christians are fair-weather supporters when it comes to doctrine. The Word of God needs to be read, interpreted and obeyed. The Word of God gives light to direct us in our walk with God and nourishment to strengthen us throughout the journey. When we read it, we are comforted, encouraged and challenged. We need to read it regularly to derive the benefits and blessings it contains. Being devoted to the apostles teaching means more than hearing it expounded. It means more than being a devoted listener. The Word must be obediently applied. The apostles’ doctrine forms the basis of fellowship and underpins true unity. When we are gathered together under one roof, this is union, not unity. God calls us to move beyond that into a deeper spirit of unity. Not uniformity. Unity allows for diversity. Doctrine provides the grounds for unity and stability within the church. It is the basis for fellowship. We are entrusted with the sacred duty of guarding the truth. The best way to be a custodian of the truth is to love it and to live it. If we do not love it and live it, why would anybody else want it?
We are called into fellowship with Christ, to share in the life of his Son. The closer we get to Jesus the closer we want to be. Fellowship with others arises out of our fellowship with God. We are united in Christ to each other. We belong to Christ and to one another. Fellowship is like a bicycle wheel. The spokes are connected to the hub at the center and the rim at the circumference. Therefore, each Christian is joined to Christ, who is the center of our fellowship, and joined also to every other believer in the wider circle of fellowship. As individual Christians (spokes in the wheel), we are functioning properly when we retain contact with both Christ and Christians. Problems begin when a spoke comes adrift at either end.
No Christian was meant to go it alone. We need fellowship because of the pressures of the world and the opposition of Satan. We need to belong to a place of worship where God’s Word is faithfully preached. If we stay away from fellowship our love for the Lord Jesus will soon cool off, just as a piece of coal separated from the fire and left on the hearth will soon cool off and eventually become cold and dead. Being in the company of keen Christians is like being in the center of a fire. When we are together (with Jesus in the center), our passion for God is kindled and a fire of love blazes in our hearts and this generates warm Christian fellowship. Satan loves to weaken the effectiveness of Christians by splitting them up into fighting factions. Devotion to fellowship is waning in our day as Christians move from one church to another like fleas hop from one body to another.
First-century Christians were devoted to the breaking of bread. It is nice to share a meal with friends, but this is no ordinary meal. Jesus took bread and wine and used them as a picture of his body and blood. By breaking bread together, the disciples were doing what Jesus had asked. This is an ordinance instituted by Christ. He requested it before he died, in order that the disciples might remember him.
All believers are called to engage in this simple service that portrays profound truths. The Lord’s Table is a simple but powerful visual aid. The grape and the grain both went through a crushing process as Jesus did at Calvary. The Lord’s Table is not a means to salvation. It is not an altar of sacrifice. It is not a meaningless, formal ceremony. Communion is a time for looking back at the historical event of Calvary. Communion is a time for looking inward, a time of self-examination in the light of Scripture. Communion is a time for looking outward. It is a call for sinners to see the gospel in the symbols of Christ’s death. Communion is a time for looking upward. Let us turn our eyes upon Jesus, who has risen and ascended to heaven. It is something we do, ‘until he comes’. Jesus is coming and we will move from remembering to reunion. This is a personal memorial and to remember him we need to forget the things that would distract us. We should remember the Lord Jesus at this supper, as Spurgeon said, ‘As the trust of your hearts, as the object of your gratitude, as the lord of your conduct, as the joy of your lives.’ In the prints of the nails, Jesus has his own memorials of us. God delights in devoted disciples.
Just how devoted are you to prayer? Do you regularly pray, at least once a day? Do you join with others in the church for prayer times each week? A well-attended prayer meeting is the sign of a healthy church. A poorly attended prayer meeting is the sign of a weak church. Yet in many churches today, few attend the regular prayer meetings. Do you see prayer as an optional extra to the spiritual life or do you see it as essential to spiritual vitality? In the first-century, church believers were dedicated to praying together. Prayer was an expression of their devotion to God. It was an external sign of their unity in vision and purpose. It seems to me that some people see the mid-week church meeting as an interruption to their social life or their leisure activity. They would prefer to stay at home and watch television. In truth such people are neither devoted fully to the Lord nor to the fellowship of the saints.
Here is some personal advice from a pastor. Firstly, do not enroll for an evening class which clashes with the designated time of the church prayer meeting. Secondly, when you buy the T.V. guide tear out the page (day of the week) for which the church prayer meeting is scheduled and throw it in the bin. Thirdly, make an entry in your diary for the prayer meeting. We need to stop making excuses and start praying. If this sounds overzealous to you then you are in poor spiritual health. Has it ever occurred to you that the sermons can improve, people can be saved and newcomers attracted to the church if you took prayer more seriously? Where can we begin? Make it a consistent prayer that God would give you a heart for prayer. Faithfully following the four activities listed in Acts 2:42 is a recipe for developing healthy churches.
SCROLL THROUGH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES BELOW
BIBLE TRANSLATION AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM
BIBLICAL STUDIES / INTERPRETATION
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
CHURCH ISSUES, GROWTH, AND HISTORY
 Some early books on church health include the following: Barry Campbell, Smaller Churches Healthy and Growing (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 1998); Gerald Neal Hewitt, A Prescription for Healthy Churches: Help for Disintegrating Churches and Directionless Pastors (Winston-Salem, NC: GNH Publishing, 2001); and Peter Masters, Do We Have a Policy for Church Health & Growth: Paul’s Ten Point Policy (London: The Wakeman Trust, 2002).
 Indeed my selection comes from my theological perspective and practical pastoral experience.
 David B. Guralnik, ed., Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2d college ed. (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 644.
 Carlton Laird, ed., Webster’s New World Thesaurus, rev. ed., updated by William D. Lutz (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1971), 346.
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 17.
 Ray C. Stedman, “Keeping the Body Healthy,” In Body Life: The Church Comes Alive! (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1972).
 Ibid., 106.
 Ibid., 114.
 Donald A. McGavran and Win Arn, How to Grow a Church: Conversations about Church Growth (Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1973).
 C. Peter Wagner, Your Church Can Grow: Seven Vital Signs of a Healthy Church (Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1976).
 Dan Spader and Gary Mayes, Growing a Healthy Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991) and Leith Anderson, “Is This Body Healthy?” chap. in A Church for the 21st Century (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1992).
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church; Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (Carol Stream, IL: ChurchSmart Resources, 1996); Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), and Stephen A. Macchia, Becoming a Healthy Church: 10 Characteristics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999).
 David A. Roozen and Jackson W. Carroll, “Recent Trends in Church Membership and Participation: An Introduction,” in Understanding Church Growth and Decline: 1950-1978, ed. Dean R. Hoge and David A. Roozen (New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1979), 39.
 Dean R. Hoge and David A. Roozen, eds., Understanding Church Growth and Decline: 1950-1978 (New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1979).
 The sociological dimension is worthy of further investigation but falls outside the scope of this work.
 McGavran and Arn, 60.
 Charles L. Chaney and Ron S. Lewis, Design for Church Growth (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1997), 87.
 C. Peter Wagner, Your Church Can Be Healthy, Creative Leadership Series (Nashville,TN: Abingdon, 1979). This book was revised as The Healthy Church: Avoiding and Curing the 9 Diseases that Can Afflict Any Church (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1996).
 Wagner, The Healthy Church, 24.
 Leith Anderson, “Is This Body Healthy?” chap. in A Church for the 21st Century (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1992), 127-8.
 Murray Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1994).
 Gerald Corey, Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 6th ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001), 387.
 Edwin H. Friedman, Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue (New York, NY: The Guildford Press, 1985).
 Peter L. Steinke, How Your Church Family Works (Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute, 1993) and Healthy Congregations (Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute, 1996).
 Ronald Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership, and Congregational Life (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 26.
 Ibid., 62
 Robert E. Logan, Beyond Church Growth: Action Plans for Developing a Dynamic Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1989), 17.
 Ibid., 23-206.
 Stephen A. Macchia, Becoming a Healthy Church: 10 Characteristics, 23.
 Stephen Macchia, Becoming a Healthy Church Workbook: A Dialogue, Assessment, and Planning Tool (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001). Unfortunately, no information regarding the development of the instruments was provided. Also, the additional biblical references proved to be limited and without comment.
 Anderson, 125-42. Anderson did not explain how he developed his signs of a healthy church. At best Anderson provided only one scriptural reference per sign.
 Christian A. Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide, 20.
 Ibid., 22-37.
 John Ellas and Flavil Yeakley, review of Natural Church Development, by Christian A. Schwarz, Journal of the American Society for Church Growth 10 (Spring 1999), 83-92.
 Paul E. Robertson, “Theology of the Healthy Church,” The Theological Educator: A Journal of Theology and Ministry 57 (Spring 1998): 45-52.
 Ken Hemphill, The Antioch Effect: 8 Characteristics of Highly Effective Churches, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 10.
 Ibid., 13.
 Hemphill, Ken. The Antioch Effect: 8 Characteristics of Highly Effective Churches. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994, 15-181.
 Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth without Compromising Your Message & Mission. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995, 71.
 Ibid, 77-79.
 Gene Getz, The Measure of a Church (Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1973), 18-20.
 Rick Warren, “Comprehensive Health Plan: To Lead a Healthy Church Takes More Than Technique,” interview by Ed Rowell and Kevin Miller, Leadership XVIII, no. 3 (Summer 1997): 22. For a comprehensive treatment of the Great Commandment, see Victor Paul Furnish, The Love Commandment in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1972).
 Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 86.
 Ibid., 103-9.
 Warren, “Comprehensive Health Plan: To Lead a Healthy Church Takes More Than Technique,” 22.
 It cannot be stated with certainty that the model of church identified in Acts 2:42 is intended to be a universal model for all churches in all times and places. One reason for asserting that it may have been normal then and there but not necessarily normative in the here and now is that it is also recorded in this chapter that believers sold their possessions and distributed the proceeds to the needy. This was undoubtedly influenced by their eschatological hope of the Lord’s imminent return.