A perfectly healthy church is an ideal that will not be realized this side of heaven. However, a church can choose to participate with God in becoming more whole and complete. Accordingly, no matter where a church is now, that church can make a commitment to allow God to heal it, to love it, and to lead it to becoming more like Jesus.
Family therapists know they cannot help a family if no one in the family is committed to getting well. Likewise, a church will only become healthier if a critical mass of the members is committed to the journey.
Along this journey to deeper health, it may be helpful to have some signposts and markers for what a healthy family looks like, and, correspondingly, this would be true of healthy churches. According to Curran, Traits of a Healthy Family (Minneapolis: Winston Press, 1983; adapted slightly), a healthy family will:
- Communicate and listen to each other
- Affirm and support one another
- Teach respect for others
- Develop trust
- Have a sense of play and humor
- Exhibit a sense of shared responsibility
- Value a sense of right and wrong
- Have a strong sense of “family”
- Have a balance of interaction among the members
- Have a shared religious/spiritual core
- Will respect the privacy of one another
- Foster family table time and conversation
- Share leisure time together
- Admit to and seek help with problems
While no church is perfect, any church family can become better at expressing the above values. However, this will require intentionality and effort from everyone.