Characteristics of a Healthy Rural Church
Today I had the opportunity to visit 3 churches in my local association. I was very happy to be in each church. Each church was different and unique, but each church had some similarities as well. If you're reading, you might wonder why the title includes rural as a qualifier. Well, I'm in a rural area, but I do think that these characteristics can speak to any size church and in any setting. My area just happens to be rural.
Friendly Spirit: Every church I go to, I hear the same thing; "We're a friendly church". However some of those claims are far from the truth. Perhaps those church members are friendly towards each other, but a friendly spirit is bigger than just saying hello, or having civil politeness. A friendly spirit, shows a guest that there is no discord in the body. A guest can tell if there is tension or not. A friendly spirit, says "I don't know who you are but, I'm glad you're here".
People Singing: From time to time I'm in churches where there is no music at all, perhaps the church has a void of capable musical leaders or maybe there is another reason. Sometimes I'm in churches and all I hear is the one who is leading the music and no one else in the congregation. When people are singing, it conveys a happiness, and a healthy spirit. Its hard to hold a grudge when you're singing to the Lord.
Energized Pastor: In honesty I was going to put young pastor!!! As if his age had anything to do with the health of the church. So I'm using the word energized instead. The pastor I visited tonight, has only been a pastor a little over a year, but there is a fire about pastor Shane that I like. Shane is energized and his excitement for the gospel is contagious to his church.
People don't want to leave: When the service concludes, a healthy church sticks around to fellowship because they genuinely enjoy being together. A healthy church builds a strong bond centered on the love they have for Christ and each other. Something is unhealthy when the members can't wait to get away from each other.
Led to be Outward Focused: The churches I visited today have all agreed to reach their community in an evangelistic outreach our association is assisting with called Gospel to Every Home. This week this one church is going out on Saturday to deliver 600 evangelistic resources and make 600 invites to their service for Easter. The pastor is leading the charge. It's doubtful that the church would attempt something like this without the leadership of their pastor. He is the driving force behind the outward focus. He is keeping the community in front of the church, and helping them see the urgency of reaching people for Jesus.
What characteristics would you add to this list for rural churches? Add appropriate comments in the comment box.