Defining the missional church as having “a renewed theological vision” means that we pay attention to assessing church health in some specific ways. Church health must be seen through the lens of scripture that reflects the nature and action of God.
Scripture uses metaphors of God planning for His people to bear witness to Him throughout all generations. It uses organic metaphors such as describing life on the vine (John 15). Fruitfulness is a possible sign of health. As we abide in Christ, He produces a yield of fruit from the vine. Sometimes there are bumper crops, and sometimes seasons of drought, but the sign of health for us is the abiding in the vine. Be ready for pruning, though, as He furthers the growth of the Kingdom of God.
Scripture also uses organizational metaphors such as a building constructed out of discarded stones (1 Peter 2). We, God’s chosen people, have been added to a beautiful building being constructed. Peter seems to be concerned here with our willingness to be used by God. Our Father does not always use the best and the most beautiful, but rather those who are willing to follow.
The Bible also uses relational metaphors such as the family. This is not just the nuclear family, but households. It is inclusive of those who are single. It is inclusive of those who are poor or disadvantaged. It is inclusive of all generations and all ethnicities. It is inclusive of the neighbour and reflects a measure of the practice of hospitality.
These metaphors paint a picture of purpose – that of joining God on mission. Health is not measured in terms of size or numbers, but witness and faithfulness. Healthy churches are measured on their faithfulness to God. They focus on making disciples, local missionaries who understand they are to be fishers of people. Healthy churches see an increase in witness, a growth in local missionaries and have developed a missional plan for multiplication at every level.
It’s time to get healthy.