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The 10 Elements of a Healthy Local Church

The true and genuine church is invisible and is made up of unnamed unspecified individuals but all share common elements.  It is these elements that help us see and know the Body of Christ- the church.  10 Elements are identified in scripture and we can use them to help determine if a local gathering of people is a healthy church or not.

Take the 26 question test to help determine if the church you are attending or considering is consistent with what The Bible reveals about a health church.  The test is based off the criteria below.  Scores below 70% should cause some concern for the healthiness of that church.


This is the orderly hierarchy of The Body of Christ- the Church (Eph 4:15-16, Titus 1:5)

1.  Christ is Head (authority and guide) of that (and all) local body of believers (Eph 4:15, Col 1:18)
2.  Christ ordains individuals to manage and take care of the local body (1 Tim 3:5)
3.  The local body of believers follow the teachings and commands of Jesus Christ guarded and continued by the apostles and elders (John 10:27)
4.  The local body and its overseers and care takers seek to build each other up in the spirit and in life (Eph 4:12)
6.  Each local member has talents and gifts unique to help that local body (1 Cor 12:27)

ELEMENT 1:
UNIFIED IN LOVE

The local body must be unified in Love.  Unified when one is hurting and unified when another is happy.  They all, as one body, need to be together.  And its unifying element is the Love for each other because of their love for Christ.  They spend time with each other outside of organized 'church events' as friends and family do.  (Eph 4:16, John 13:34-35, Heb 10:24-25)

ELEMENT 2: 
UNCOMPROMISED TRUTHFUL TEACHING OF GOD'S WORD

The teachers do not avoid 'controversial' issues or water down parts of scripture in fear of offending someone.  The body agrees with the teachers and rejoice in the true and pure teaching of scripture.  They worship God by teaching and understanding the truth in God's Word (Ps 119:9-12).  They don't shy away from issues or manipulate scripture to appease the congregation; but seek to help the congregation love God through accepting His Word, even when its tough and convicting.

ELEMENT 3:
GOD'S GLORY FOCUSED WORSHIP

The worship songs chosen and praise teams are all centered on praising God and encouraging through their singing to point the body to praising God.  The music, no matter the style, is sound in its lyrics and true in its purpose for being sung.  It stirs our spirits to praise God simply because He is only one worthy of praise. (Psalm 138:1-4)

ELEMENT 4:  
REMINDS EVERYONE TO CONSTANTLY SEEK THE CROSS

The teachers lead the body to the gospel and the local body seeks to be more like Christ as a whole.  The Gospel is preached and relied on as the reason for their local body to come together.  No matter what each individual is going though, that church points them to Christ's works and who he is and not money or worldly means to satisfy their worldly wants and needs. (Phil 3:7-11)

ELEMENT 5: 
FRUIT AND MATURITY ARE ITS DESIRES

The teachers encourage and support the local body to remain in Christ and seek spiritual maturity and fruit.  The local body desires to grow more mature and more like Christ and the fruit of the spirit is seen.  They encourage faith in Christ for Christ and not faith as a means for more material gain (John 15:4-5)

ELEMENT 6: 
OBEYING THE GREAT COMMISSION

The teachers are actively discipling members of the local body and the local body desire to be discipled and grow in faith and likeness of Christ.  Discipleship is a central ministry in that church. (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Cor 11:1).

ELEMENT 7: 
GOD FOCUED AND MEMBER SELFLESSNESS

In all that is taught and done in all the church events and gatherings; God is the end result and the primary hope. The body is selfless in their support, encouragement, and focus.  The events and teachings are humbling and sacrificial.  The leaders encourage and support selfless living and thinking and not self satisfying coveting of material or superficial things (Mark 12:28-31, 1 Cor 10:31)

ELEMENT 8: 
THE EMPLOYMENT OF EVERY MEMBER

The leaders and teachers employ the talents and gifts of each of the local body members.  They are active in involving and building up that local body with everyone's support.  Every member uses their finances and materials to benefit the body as if they are directly serving God for spiritual growth and the glory of God's kingdom that is not of the world. (Eph 4:11-13, Prov 3:9-10, James 5:13-16)

ELEMENT 9: 
COMMUNITY INVOLVMENT AND MISSIONS

The local church needs to be glorifying God by serving its local community.  It needs to be ready for when God uses them to witness to the outside world of the hope they have and present the Gospel to the local world.  It trusts in the power of God when investing in missions and ministries and remains faithful despite physical outcomes. (1 Peter 3:15, Heb 11:1-2, Acts 1:8)

ELEMENT 10: 
OBEDIENCE TO THE OFFICES AND ORDINANCES

Each local church is extremely free to grow and move within its own location, culture, and adapt to different peoples and times.  But no matter the people and time there are only 2 offices and 2 ordinances that are commanded to be part of a true local church body.  The detail of these are explained below (1 Tim 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 22:19) .

Corruption of any of these 10 elements reveal a decline in spiritual growth within that church body; here's why:

All the elements can be summed up like this: Focus is on Jesus Christ, not man; in the church, outside the church, and with everyone's talents, gifts, and possessions.  At any point the focus is taken off Christ, whether its in the church, outside the church, or with anyone's talents or possessions; the corruption of selfish Man begins to infect the body as a whole.

There are some explicit details within the church that God, through the apostles, makes clear in the 10th Necessary Element of a true local church.

DETAIL 1:  ONLY 2 ORDAINED CHURCH OFFICES

The Elder (or overseer/bishop) and Deacon are the only 2 offices ordained by God and given to man to build up and guide the church.  The Elder is the general manager of the local church body and the Deacon is the servant of the local body.  Each position has its specific qualifications as well:

ELDER: (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9)
  1. Is a Appointed Position
  2. Must be Married
  3. Must be a Husband of One Wife
  4. sober-minded
  5. self-controlled,
  6. respectable
  7. hospitable
  8. able to teach
  9. not a drunkard
  10. not violent
  11. gentle,
  12. not quarrelsome
  13. not a lover of money.
  14. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,
  15. He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.
  16. he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
  17. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine
  18. Guard and defend Sound Doctrine (1 Tim 6:20, Jude 1:3)
  19. rebuke those who contradict it [sound doctrine].
  20. Command and teach (1 Tim 4:11)
  21. shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
DEACON: (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
  1. must be dignified
  2. not double-tongued,
  3. not addicted to much wine,
  4. not greedy for dishonest gain.
  5. Must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
  6. let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
  7. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.
  8. must be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.
There is argument that the bible supports women as deacons and proponents of this teaching cite a verse in Romans where Paul is commending a woman servant that helped that local church.  But He still does not grant her the title of deacon but only affirms her service (which all Christians should be).
  • There is more than one Elder and Deacon in each church.  As many as necessary to be good stewards of God's flock. 
  • There is also not one central leading Elder.  The church decisions of the early church included all the available apostles and elders.  The local congregation nominates people for office as well as for mission trips and the elders then appointed from the nominees (Acts 6:3, Acts 15:22, 2 Cor 8:19).   
  • It is also important to note that The Elders were in charge of guarding and keeping what the apostles taught.  Holding that their teachings were the truth and that it is now the Elders responsibility to continue it.  Jesus prayed that they would not fall in to evil and because Jesus is God we can be sure that true Elders of the faith continue what the apostles taught.
Even the local body has a duty to those qualified and appointed officer holders.

Hebrews 13:17
Obey xyour leaders and submit to them, yfor they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to zgive an account. aLet them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
 1 Timothy 5:17-19
Let the elders zwho rule well be considered worthy of adouble honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, b“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, c“The laborer deserves his wages.”
DETAIL 2: THE ONLY 2 ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH

These are the 2 things that Jesus himself told us to observe and do until he returns.
  1. Baptism; part of the great commission and included in his command to go and do.  It is not necessary for salvation but it is still an ordinance that is expected of the church to do. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  2. Communion:  Break bread and drink win to remember his sacrifice.  No specific mention of how often except He simply said "do this" (Luke 22:19)
RED FLAGS OF A UNHEALTHY OR FALSE CHURCH:
  • Their teachings are focused on you and making yourself happy.  "Pep-talk Preaching"
  • Their teachings lead to financial and material gain as its end hope and use through 'faith'. "God, The Personal ATM"
  • The church only comes together for planned church events and Sundays. "Business of Religion"
  • They don't teach The Gospel or teach they a different gospel (please read Essentials of The Gospel Message)
  • They change and modify the Ordinances and or Offices of the church to appease man or be more accepted by the world.
  • The only missions they support have a direct monetary benefit back to their church and don't support ministries or missions that do not give money back to them.


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