Biblical and Spirit of Prophecy Support

Eight Quality Characteristics of a Healthy Church Definitions and Biblical and Spirit of Prophecy Support

The following gives the definition of each quality characteristic, as well as Bible texts and Spirit of Prophecy quotations in support of Natural Church Development's eight quality characteristics of a healthy church.


Empowering Leadership

What is it?
Leaders of growing churches equip, support, motivate and mentor individuals to become all that God wants them to be.

Leadership that empowers other people; not a dictatorship, but an enabler of other ministers for their ministries.

Does not use lay people for their own goals, but enables the laity to attain the spiritual potential God has for them.

Rather than handle the bulk of church responsibilities on their own, they invest the majority of their time in discipleship, delegation, and multiplication. Thus, energy that they invest can be spent many times over with the people they invest in.

Bible Support
2 Timothy 2:2 - And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (Multiplication of leadership: focuses on empowering others.)

Ephesians 4:12 - For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

Spirit of Prophecy Support
“In laboring where there are already some in the faith, the minister should at first seek not so much to convert unbelievers, as to train the church members for acceptable cooperation. Let him labor for them individually, endeavoring to arouse them to seek for a deeper experience themselves, and to work for others. When they are prepared to sustain the minister by their prayers and labors, greater success will attend his efforts.” Gospel Workers, p 196

“Every church should be a training school for Christian workers. . . There should not be only teaching, but actual work under experienced instructors. Let the teachers lead the way in working among the people, and others, uniting with them, will learn from their example. One example is worth more than many precepts.” Ministry of Healing, p 149

"Ministers should not do the work which belongs to the church, thus wearying themselves and preventing others from performing their duty. They should teach the members how to labor in the church and in the community." Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p 292


Gift-based Ministry

What is it?
Christians functioning in their areas of giftedness.

The role of leadership is to help its members to identify their gifts and to integrate them into appropriate ministries.

When Christians serve in their area of giftedness, they generally function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary.

No other factor influences the sense of joy in living the Christian life more than if we are living it according to our spiritual gifts.

Bible Support
1 Peter 4:10 - As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Corinthians 12:28 - And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

Spirit of Prophecy Support
The greatest cause of our spiritual feebleness as a people is the lack of real faith in Spiritual Gifts. If they all received this kind of testimony in full faith, they would put from them those things which displease God, and would everywhere stand in union and in strength. And three-fourths of the ministerial labor now expended to help the churches could then be spared to the work of raising up churches in new fields. Review and Herald, January 14, 1868

“Let the hand of God work the clay for His own service. He knows just what kind of vessel He wants. To every man He has given his work. God knows what place he is best fitted for. Many are working contrary to the will of God, and they spoil and web.” Lift Him Up, p 65


Passionate Spirituality

What is it?
Are Christians in this church on "fire"? Do they live committed lives and practice their faith with joy and enthusiasm?

It is not just spirituality, but a passionate spirituality.

People are on fire for the Lord; they are contagious Christians. A church full of contagious Christians is a powerful drawing card.

Biblical Support
Mark 12:30 - And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.

Luke 24:32 - And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us.”

1 Peter 4:8 - Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, “Rejoice!”

Spirit of Prophecy Support
“Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Of whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are Christ’s our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. All we have and are is consecrated to Him. We long to bear Him image, breathe His spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things. Steps to Christ, p. 58

“But prayer will be no task to the soul that loves God; it will be a pleasure, a source of strength. Our hearts will be stayed on God and we shall say by our daily life, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.’” Review and Herald, May 13, 1884

“To honor Christ, to become like Him, to work for Him, is . . . life’s highest ambition and its greatest joy.” The Faith I Live By, p 166


Effective Structures

What is it?
The most important criterion for forms and structures in the church is if they fulfill their purpose or not. Whatever does not measure up to this requirement is changed or laid to rest.

Effective structures refers to the organizational framework of the church: the boards, committees, ministries, etc.

These structures should be supportive of the goals and mission of the church; they should not exist just to perpetuate themselves.

Biblical Support
1 Corinthians 14:40 - But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Acts 15:28 - And it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.

(The early church created a mission-centered structure to support the mission command of Jesus.)

Spirit of Prophecy Support
“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable.” Testimonies to Ministers, p 26

“Satan is ever working to have the service of God degenerate into dull form and become powerless to save souls. While the energy earnestness, and efficiency of the workers become deadened by the efforts to have everything so systematic, the taxing labor that must be done by our ministers to keep this complicated machinery in motion engrosses so much time that the spiritual work is neglected. And with so many things to run, this work requires so large an amount of means that other branches of the work will wither and die for want of due attention.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 602


Inspiring Worship Service

What is it?
The quality of worship and the heart of the worshiper makes it inspiring. It must emanate from hearts that have been touched by God during the week.

The worship must be reflective of the inner joy possessing the hearts of the worshipers.

It cannot be mere form and ceremony; it must emanate from hearts that have been touched by God during the week.

It is not the kind of worship that is important: traditional, celebration, etc. It is the quality of the worship and the heart of the worshiper that makes it inspiring.

Inspiring worship is full of happy Christians who enjoy and are excited about being in the house of God.

Biblical Support
Psalms 122:1 - I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord.

Acts 2:25, 26 - For David says of Him, I was always beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope.

Revelation 4:10, 11 - The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”

Spirit of Prophecy Support
“True worship consists in working together with Christ. Prayers, exhortation, and talk are cheap fruits, which are frequently tied on; but fruits that are manifested in good works, in caring for the needy, the fatherless, and widows, are genuine fruits and grow naturally upon a good tree.” Christian Service, p 96

“Ardent, active piety should characterize the worshipers...lifeless attitude of the worshipers in the house of God is one great reason why the ministry is not more productive of good. The melody of song, poured forth from many hearts in clear distinct utterance, is one of God=s instrumentalities in the work of saving souls. All the service should be conducted with solemnity and awe, as if in the visible presence of the Master of assemblies.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 493

“Another matter which should receive attention, both at our camp meetings and elsewhere, is that of singing . . .Organize a company of the best signers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them . . . They should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God.” Voice in Speech and Song, p 434

“In the meetings held, let a number be chosen to take part in the song service. And let the singing be accompanied with musical instruments skillfully handled. We are not to oppose the use of instruments of music in our work. This part of the service is to be carefully conducted; for it is the praise of God in song. The singing is not always to be done by a few. As often as possible, let the entire congregation join in.” Gospel Workers, pp 357, 358


Holistic Small Groups

What is it?
These groups go beyond just discussing Bible passages to applying its message to daily life. Members feel comfortable bringing up those issues and questions that are immediate personal concerns. Holistic Small Groups are a natural place for Christians to learn to serve others both inside and outside the group with their spiritual gifts.

It is the very essence of the true life of the church of Jesus Christ that is that is worked out in small groups.

A place where people can feel comfortable with sharing their faith development

Not just small groups, but holistic small groups—groups that help people not only know the Bible, but be able to apply it to their life situation

A place for Christians to learn how to serve others and be equipped for reproductive ministry

Biblical Support
Acts 2:41, 42 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Acts 2:46 - And they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.

Spirit of Prophecy Support
“The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err. . . Let them keep their bond of union unbroken, pressing together in love and unity, encouraging one another to advance, each gaining courage and strength from the assistance of the others. Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, page 21, 22


Need-Oriented Evangelism

What is it?
It is the task of each Christian to use his or her gifts to serve non-Christians with whom one has a personal relationship. Already existing relationships are contacts for evangelism.

The ability of the church to focus its evangelism on the needs and questions of non-Christians—“need oriented” rather than “manipulative programs” where pressure is applied.

Quality churches are evangelistic congregations—they focus on reaching the lost.

Biblical Support
1 Corinthians 9:22 - To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.

Luke 15:2 - And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Spirit of Prophecy Support
“He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good.” Desire of Ages, p. 151

“We are not to renounce social communion. We should not seclude ourselves from others. In order to reach all classes, we must meet them where they are.” Desire of Ages, p 152

“He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs.” Desire of Ages, p 151

“Let them see that our religion does not make us unsympathetic or exacting.” Desire of Ages, p 152


Loving Relationships

What is it?
People do not want to hear us talk about love, they want to experience how Christian love really works.

The ability of church members to truly demonstrate the love of Christ.

The creation of warm and caring environments that make it easy for new Christians to grow in an atmosphere of love and acceptance

Biblical Support
John 13:35 – And by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.

1 John 3:11 - For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Spirit of Prophecy Support
The golden chain of love, binding the hearts of the believers in unity, in bonds of fellowship and love, and in oneness with Christ and the Father, makes the connection perfect, and bears to the world a testimony of the power of Christianity that cannot be controverted. . . Satan understands the power of such a testimony as a witness to the world of what grace can do in transforming character. . . He will work every conceivable device to break this golden chain which links heart to heart of those who believe the truth and binds them up in close connection with the Father and the Son.” God’s Amazing Grace, p 237

The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and loveable Christian. Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 100

If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one. Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 189