the free methodist church in canada

Church Health

A Healthy Church is…

At another point we paused to clarify our understanding of “what is a healthy church?” While this expression found below may not satisfy all readers of this report, it became the working framework of the SATT process.

Trinity >  Mission  > Church

The Trinity, being an eternal community, created us with a capacity to participate in that eternal community.  We rebelled and left.  God the Trinity has been on a mission to reconnect and reconcile with us.  As part of that mission God created the Church.  The order of things is important.  The church is not our beginning point.  The Trinity is.  Frost and Hirsch wrote[1], “If we get this the wrong way around and allow our notions of the church to qualify our sense of purpose and mission, we can never be disciples of Jesus, and we will never be an authentic missional church.”  The Church is a means to an end. It is never the end in and of itself.  Churches do not have a mission.  God’s mission has a Church.

Here is a working definition of Church Health that the Systems Analysis Task Team has been working on…

We started with,

The vision of God is to see all things reconciled to Himself and to establish His kingdom of shalom.  Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 1:19-20, 2 Corinthians 5:18

Because it seemed that this is what God wants,

The vision of the Free Methodist Church is to see a healthy church within the reach of all people in Canada and beyond.

So then it seemed to us the key idea would be that,

“A healthy church does whatever it takes to place the gospel within reach of those around them.” 

To take it further we came up with another working definition,

Bold= the Essence of the Church – what the church “is”

Italic= the Activity of the Church – what the church “does”

A healthy Church is a worshipping community (transformation) of Jesus-followers (discipleship) that does whatever it takes to continually place the gospel (mission) within reach of those around them.

As we thought about it more we decided that the mission should drive the definition,

A healthy Church does whatever it takes to continually place the gospel (mission) within reach of those around them resulting in a worshipping community (transformation) of Jesus-followers (discipleship) who do whatever it takes to continually place the gospel (mission) within reach of those around them resulting in a worshipping community (transformation) of Jesus-followers (discipleship) etc …

After we settled on a definition of a healthy church, we discussed what each of the elements would look like in practice.

Worship (transformation)

  • Worship is the authentic confession and celebration that “Jesus is Lord!” This can only come about through the transforming work of the Spirit.
    • In our times, worship seems to include:
      • Self-sacrifice and generosity – you can no longer be a pure individualist or materialist
      • Placing our spiritual lives at the centre of our family’s lives – our primary arena in which to practice and express the fruit of the Spirit
      • Conceiving of our working lives as another arena in which to practice and express the fruit of the Spirit
      • Active caring for Creation – as an expression of our love of the Creator
      • Witness through the arts – art illuminates the magnificence and mysteries of God and life in His world
      • Direct expressions of celebration and gratitude to God – i.e. singing, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines
      • Justice in Society – missionary engagement in human systems such as economics, politics, and social issues

Community (transformation)

  • Christian community embodies love through the costly discipline of putting one another first as we take our place in the Body.  A Body like this is the result of and continues to be transformed by the ongoing work of the Spirit.
  • In our times, community seems to include:
    • The Shared life – i.e. spending time together, laughing together
    • Being Involved – going beyond maintaining a “safe distance” apart, showing grace because we need grace, and telling the truth because we need the truth
    • Our whole lives – not just a fellowship that is “in spirit only” or limited to a once every Sunday meeting
    • Being local and specific – you cannot simply love your neighbour in general
    • Breaking Barriers – soul friendships that do not and often cannot exist in normal society – i.e. the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick
    • The beauty of mutual submission and the honouring of healthy boundaries
    • The gift of restorative discipline


  • Being a Jesus-follower means having a lifelong attachment to Him as an apprentice to a master. The primary purpose of discipleship is to worship God, become like Him, and participate in His mission.
  • In our times, being a Jesus-follower seems to include:
  • More than a program – it is an intentional and organic process that is defined by loving relationships marked by accountability, commitment, education and service. Followers helping followers follow.
  • Making a sacrificial investment to a church family (community)
  • Developing new leaders
  • Intentionally engaging in spiritual habits/disciplines that open us up to healing, transformation, and being sent out into the world.
  • Engaging with people outside our class, race, sexual orientation, religion, and other comfort categories and divisions

Doing whatever it takesMission

  • Mission is the practice of the Great Commission in our neighborhood motivated by love to become all things to all people so that we might by all possible means save some for the sake of the gospel and so share in its blessings.
    • In our times, doing whatever it takes seems to include:
      • Risking it all in pursuit of the “one” outside the kingdom
      • Always placing a higher priority on those outside the church
      • Listening well
      • Learning to empathize with and build bridges to the values, concerns, strengths and needs of those around us
      • Being aware of the culture(s) around us
      • Learning to communicate the gospel in language understood by those around us
      • Removing barriers and adapting our structures, practices, and resources for the Mission
      • Experimenting with new initiatives, identifying good ideas, networking them into communities of practice, and nurturing them.