Jerry Bridges communicates the gospel accurately and clearly in less than 30 seconds.

According to Dann Spader and Gary Mayes there are six foundational aspects of ministry crucial to cultivate an environment for (healthy) church growth.  While the culture has changed quite a bit in the twenty years since Spader & Mayes published their thoughts, their points are still valid.

1. Create an atmosphere of love

Jesus’ insight, “By this will all men know that [we] love one another,” (John 13:35) has never been more true.

2. Build a relational ministry

Building relationships with people was an intentional, aggressive agenda for Christ. “He spent time with his disciples” (John 3:22). He lived by the principle that people respond when we reach out to them.

3. Communicate Christ clearly

In a world that knows only caricatures of Christ, people need to know him as he really is. We must present him and his message of life and grace as he gave it, so that people might build a real relationship with the living Savior.

4. Build a healthy ministry image

What kind of vision do the people in your ministry have for the work to which God has called them? How confident are they in his ability to accomplish the task he has entrusted to them? Cohesiveness, commitment to the cause, receptivity to change, and teachability are all related to a healthy group image.

5. Mobilize a prayer base

Our task is to effect spiritual life change. This kind of spiritual work is not accomplished by human means. As we move into the arena of prayer, God moves into the arena of our lives.

6. Communicate the Word

Research has shown that even our most regular church-goers have some biblical illiteracy. We continually need to evaluate our teaching to insure God’s Word is being taught accurately

Again, while I believe all these points are valid they are not equally important. Nor is this list sufficient.

I think I would appreciate them more if they were reordered.  In particular #4 may be a practical truth but I would put it last.  In fact, I suspect #4 would be best described as a consequence of faithfully and effectively doing the other five.  To list it higher, even as high as the authors do, suggests that marketing and branding is more important to the health and success of the church than prayer and biblical literacy among the church members.  But then one must remember that when these authors wrote this book Marketing the Church was the “new” rage, so the these guys are in places merely reflecting their times.

That said, I suspect the absence of #4 in a congregation may serve as a caution flag.  If #4, as it is described above, is absent it may be like a warning light on a dashboard that tells us to “Check Engine”. Something is amiss: One or more of the other points are not functioning properly in a particular body.

These insights were originally published in in the book Growing a Healthy Church.