During Lent, Rev Rob Stewart offers a 7-part series about the Vital Congregations Initiative entitled “7 Marks of Vital Congregations”. This is the seventh and final installment, which focuses on ecclesial health.
I Corinthians 12.12-13
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Most people desire – and do what they can – to maintain health. So do congregations. And systems and corporations and countries.
We seek health in order to be as whole as possible. We wish to be as fully happy as we are able. This always requires some effort. Some need more effort than others to function at an optimum level. Each individual is different as each congregation is different. We do the best we can with what we have.
Healthy people know that to maintain their health, they need to pay attention to how their body is functioning. When a problem (symptom) appears, hopefully, they seek the advice of professionals who can diagnose and treat any illness or disease.
Assessing one’s body, or just paying attention to oneself, is essential to not letting a problem get out of hand. Sadly, many of us have illnesses that show no symptoms and do not get “noticed” until “un-health” has overwhelmed us.
Prevention is key. This means we need to pay attention to how we are closely and regularly.
Likewise, congregations that seek to be vital and healthy are those that are regularly assessing their functioning. As persons often see their doctor for an Annual Physical Checkup, so congregations would do well to perform a regular “Spiritual Checkup.” Some questions for such an appraisal:
- Is the vision recalled and reaffirmed regularly?
- Are purposes stated, modified as needed, and celebrated?
- Are the various “body parts” functioning in healthy, cooperative ways?
- Are leaders working in tandem on the same goals of healthiness and harmony?
- Are leaders clear about their tasks and given support to do them?
- Are adequate resources put into a congregation’s priorities?
- Is communication clear amongst leaders and with the whole body?
- Are there are routines or practices that upend “do no harm?”
- What new practices and procedures might bring greater health and happiness?
- How are we keeping all the body informed about “health maintenance” efforts?
- Are the various “parts of the body” happy, finding ways to offer their gifts and to serve the common good as they fulfill their vocations in Christ?
- How are leaders inviting members and friends into contributing to the health of the ministry?
- How shall we celebrate who we are as The Body of Christ?
May God bless us in our “health maintenance” of the Body of Christ.