Gateway Church: In Search of Church Health

What is a healthy church?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ponder the question. It’s something the original creators of Fellowship One considered as they dreamed of the role technology could play in helping churches be healthy and dynamic.

Ten years later, we’re still very invested in the topic. That’s why we were intrigued when we heard our customer, Gateway Church, was working on an initiative around the topic of church health. Associate Senior Pastor Allan Kelsey graciously shared with us Gateway leaderships’ two-year (so far) journey in pursuit of a healthy church model.

Model is an important word here. While Gateway’s leaders want to define and achieve church health, they’re the first to say that it might look different from one congregation to the next. But having based their strategy on physical benchmarks of growth, they’re intent on validating that what works small also works big. Then, if it scales, they can give away the model from a place of experience. Finally, the plan requires that they actually model what they’re learning—“walk the talk,” so to speak.

If you were at the 2014 Gateway Conference last week—or if you have access to the Internet—you got a glimpse of that outcome. Gateway’s Pastor Robert Morris made an impassioned plea to the Church on behalf of Mark Driscoll, who has been going through a difficult season, personally and professionally.

Not everyone appreciates Morris taking the lead and calling for a Church ceasefire on Driscoll, but his appeal reflects his desire as a leader to practice what he preaches. His request to church leaders resonates with at least four aspects of Gateway’s journey to its own healthy state:

  • Focus first on the highest levels of authority and visibility—the leaders
  • Define a growth structure (that includes a plan for healing and restoration when trouble occurs)
  • Insist upon accountability to—and track progress against—the growth structure’s benchmarks
  • Transfer health to ever-widening circles within the local congregation…and beyond

No matter how you feel about this widely debated story, health in the church is a goal worthy of our focus.