After 10 Years

As many of you would be aware of by now, on June 16th, I ceased being the Director of Church Health for the FMCIC.  Starting that day, I now serve as the Director of Leadership Development for the FMCIC.  We are at the start of a new chapter.

I started as Director of Church Health about 10 years ago.  Soon after that, Church Health Thursday’s became a thing.  Maybe not a big thing, but a thing.  This will be my last post like this under the Church Health Thursday banner.  I will continue to post on here (wherever you are gazing at this).  It’s just now my “blog” (I have always resisted that title but most of you call it that) will continue. The focus will turn more to leadership stuff and not church health stuff.  And yes, I realize that those two worlds have overlapped and will continue to overlap.  What’s Got You Thinking videos will also continue, and the rest we will figure out.  Give us the summer to do that ok.  You will get leadership stuff from me and it is up to Jervis what Church Health Thursdays become. 

It wouldn’t be a fitting last “blog” (still not a fan) if I didn’t do some sort of list.  So here goes.  Here is what I have noticed about healthy churches over the last 10 or so years.  This is not a complete list, so as always, feel free to add your own ideas to the list and work on them together as a church.  In no particular order:  

  • I have noticed that churches that have a ministry plan or a LifePlan, or something similar, are healthier.  They pray and ask good questions and commit to follow through on what God has called them to be and do.  They evaluate how they are doing, they adjust, and they update that plan.  Not every 10 years or when they change pastors.  Evaluation is ongoing.  Adjusting is ongoing.  Updating (in a major, prayer filled way) should be every 2-3 years.


  • I have noticed that churches that are in the business of making disciples are healthier.  They understand how every group; every ministry and every program contribute to the disciple making process.  They understand that they need a pathway for folks to follow as well as training and resources to help this priority get lived out.  They understand the need to reach out and help people discover the Good News.  They understand the need to help folks in the church mature in their relationship with their Heavenly Father so that they understand their call as disciple makers. You see, gentle reader, this disciple making priority is not just for the pastor or the board to live out and make happen.  All of us who are Jesus followers have been called to be disciple makers.  Each of us (since we are the church – you and me) need to prioritize the work of discipleship in our own lives.  Who is pouring into you, helping you grow?  Who are you pouring in to?  And, who in your life are you building a relationship with so that you can point them towards Jesus and they will listen?  Those are good questions for all of us to wrestle with and respond to.

  • I have noticed that churches who have an active, engaged, lived out heart for their community are healthier.  All those words are important.  And again, there is a “you and me” piece to this one.  How is our heart when it comes to our community?  When it comes to people who are not yet in a relationship with Jesus?  How do we feel about those who are the “other”, be that theologically, culturally, economically or any other list of things?  How is our heart towards folks who have a very different world view?  Where do we need to let our Father change our heart so that we can get about the very real business of loving, serving, understanding, building bridges, and pointing people towards Jesus?  It starts with our hearts, but it does need to move into action.  Again, the church.  All of us.  You and me.  This is our call.


  • I have noticed that churches that “one another” well are healthier.  Church families or communities whose life together is more than showing up for an hour and sitting the same direction and listening to somebody talk are healthier.  Churches marked by deep, meaningful relationships, rich worship, prayer, grace given and received and love on display are healthier.  Churches marked by serving, need meeting, and encouragement are healthier.  This point could be understood as part of the disciple making process.  But, I felt it needed to be said “out loud” lest we drift towards thinking disciple making and church life are simply about the transfer of information.  So again, all of us, need to “one another” one another.



  • I have noticed that churches that try new things and create an atmosphere where its ok to make a mistake, when you try something new, are healthier.  We will always need to be
    prepared to change and try new things. We will always need to encourage new ideas.  And then we will need to be places of grace and encouragement if something doesn’t go fully according to plan.  Celebrate trying and learn from everything.  For the sake of Kingdom

That’s enough for now.  Jervis will take it from here.  Thanks everyone.  It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work on this stuff together.       

Marc McAlister
Director of Leadership Development and former Director of Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.