The Church is sick

SERMON TOPIC: The Church is sick

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 9 December 2012


Sermon synopsis: What does a sick church look like? How can we recognize one when we spot one?
We want to be cautious in treading here. The last thing we hope to do is discourage our brethren.
Our only reason for compiling a list of symptoms of congregational illness is to spur members and leaders to act to rescue their church while there is time.

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The Church is sick! mt

How to Spot a Sick Church

The late great evangelist Vance Havner, who never weighed more than 120 pounds in his life would be my guess, used to quip, "I'm the healthiest sick-looking person you've ever seen in your life!"

It's not easy to tell the state of a person's health by looking. That's why doctors put us through a whole battery of tests. Some abnormal conditions are harder to diagnose than others.

Some churches are so clearly sick that a visitor does not even have to get out of his car to tell. The run-down condition of the facilities, the two-month-old message on the outside sign, and the sparcity of vehicles in the parking lot tell you all you want to know about that church. Unless you are the invited speaker for the day, you drive on down the highway to another more inviting looking church.

The Church is sick!

Other churches give signs of being healthy but have fault lines running through the interior of their relationships and operations.

A friend who read our earlier posting on "building a healthy church," and who himself has been wounded by an unhealthy congregation or two in his 20 years in the ministry, suggested we try our hand at identifying characteristics of unhealthy churches.

Nothing that follows is the result of any scientific polling or in-depth studies. As with almost everything on this blog, this is my observation from nearly a half century in the ministry.

The Church is sick!

What does a sick church look like? How can we recognize one when we spot one?

We want to be cautious in treading here. The last thing we hope to do is discourage our brethren.

Our only reason for compiling a list of symptoms of congregational illness is to spur members and leaders to act to rescue their church while there is time.

Any doctor will tell you that in diagnosis there are non-symptoms which the medical profession is trained to find, then bypass.

Just because one church has a well-thought-out constitution and by-laws and another doesn't see the need for one has nothing to do with congregational health. The kind of organization, whether they are more conservative or less so, the educational level of their ministers--none are barometers of health.

The Church is sick!

Size is irrelevant. So is income, architecture (some won't even have a building!), and location.

That said, here are my submissions for the "top ten ways to spot an unwell church when you see one."

Understand that no congregation will display all ten symptoms. It isn't necessary to have strep throat, a brain tumour, and gallstones before one can be considered sick. Any one is enough to qualify for admission into the hospital's emergency ward.

The Church is sick!

10. A church that cannot solve a problem harmoniously is sick. Instead, the members bicker and stall and blame.

9. A church that resists all change is sick. If it was good enough for grandpa, it's fine with them.

8. An unbalanced church is sick. It's either too ultra-conservative or too liberal, too close-minded or too open-minded, too welcoming to newness or too wedded to the past.

7. A church without a healthy view of Scripture is sick. It either ignores the Bible, makes an idol of the Bible, or more likely, preaches a few passages to death and ignores the remaining portions.

The Church is sick!

6. A church that undercuts its leadership at every opportunity is sick.

5. A church controlled by unhealthy leaders is sick.

4. A church that exists only for itself is sick. It does not see beyond the city limits. The budget, if it has one, will show that almost all its income goes to sustain itself. Call the funeral home.

3. A joyless church is sick. When laughter interrupts the leaden sombreness, it is quickly quietened. The singing, praying, and offering are tasks to be done and gotten over.

The Church is sick!

2. A lazy church is sick. Oh, it knows it ought to get out of bed this morning and go to work, but just doesn't feel like it. Whatever ministries the church does will be rare and puny and involve only a few individuals. That small effort, however, will satisfy the congregation that they are making a difference.

The Church is sick!

1. An unreproducing church is sick. Its total evangelism program is summed up by one item: the annual revival meeting (if that). However, there will be no effort by the members to share their faith in the community, no evangelism through Sunday School classes, no training in soul winning, and no sense of the need to have such. When the guest preacher shows up for revival, any unchurched person in the building is there strictly by accident.

The Church is sick!

Nothing about any of this is humorous. Unhealthy churches exist in large numbers today. We have an epidemic.

Before leaving the subject, we suggest readers turn around each of the ten characteristics to form ten qualities of healthy congregations: problem-solving, adapting as necessary to conditions, balanced, Scriptural, supportive of leaders, healthy leaders, mission-minded, joyful, productive, and evangelistic.

The Church is sick!

Signs of a "sick" charismatic church(12-31-2004)

While there are some good points to what many people see as the "flakier“ side of Christianity, there are a whole pile of pitfalls that need to be watched for that can lead to spiritual abuse, false teaching, and the "elitism" of a charismatic congregation. I would like to open up some discussion of different opinions on the matter, specifically from the charismatic perspective. Let's not turn this into a "liturgical" or "evangelical" vs. "charismatic" argument, but just your views on how good charismatic churches can go wrong. 10. There is a disproportionate number of prayers and songs asking the Lord to "bless me", "bless us", "bless them", and very little in the way of "Bless You". These are just a few warning signs that I know can lead to abuse or elitism. There are probably more. Mike

The Church is sick!

The Bible is about one of two things.

Either us or God.

To illustrate the problem let us look at two different types of Christians.

Dog Christians.

Cat Christians.

The Church is sick!

A dog says you love me,

feed me, care for me,

you must be God.

A cat says you love me,

feed me, care for me,

I must be God.

The Church is sick!

A dog is loyal and wants to serve.

Dogs have masters.

A cat wants to be served.

Cats have slaves.

The Church is sick!

A dog wants to follow.

A cat wants to lead.

The Church is sick!

Dog’s sit at the feet of the

master and give him

their attention.

Cats want to be above,

they want to

receive attention.

The Church is sick!

A dog obeys.

A cat wants to be obeyed.

Guard dogs.

Dogs fulfil many functions.

There are guard dogs.

In fact most dogs will alert you to intruders or visitors even if they are too small to protect you.

Guide dogs.

There are guide dogs.

They enable blind people to be able to have some independence.

Hunting dogs.

There are hunting dogs that sniff out, chase or collect prey.

Sniffer dogs.

There are sniffer dogs that are used to find concealed drugs and explosives.

Circus dogs.

There are circus dogs to entertain.

Sled dogs.

There are sled dogs that make it possible to travel great distances in snow and difficult weather conditions.

Rescue dogs.

There are rescue dogs that are used to find people buried by avalanches, earthquakes or even perform sea rescue.

Sheep dogs.

There are sheep dogs, these dogs do the job of herding sheep.


And then there are cats.

What kind of Christian are you?

The Church is sick!

A dog looks in the Bible for God’s glory.

Colossians 1:15,16. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

A cat looks for the gifts of God.

Satan doesn’t want us to focus on God’s glory and so the cat thinks life isn’t about bringing God glory, it’s about me. 2 Corinthians 4:4. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The Church is sick!

Luke 14:12-14.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Love meals for refugees.

Love meals for refugees.

Love meals for refugees.

There are needs all around us!

James 2:14.

James 2:14.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Faith without works is dead

Gypsey school at Hope Centre.

Gypsey school at Hope Centre.

Gypsey school at Hope Centre.

Gypsey school at Hope Centre.


8th Vision Tour - Eight Christian leaders from South Africa, Cyprus and the UK spent a week in Greece visiting the various HM ministries and participating in them. A particular bonus was that at least 3 people came to know the Lord during their various activities.

The group spent the entire week based at the Greek Bible School in Pikermi and then doing day trips to the fascinating areas surrounding Athens. These tours serve a wonderful purpose of exposing people to the ministry and a high percentage of those who have come on vision tours end up as faithful supporters of the work with significant involvement.

The Women & Children’s Medical Centre is open 2-3 times a week, offering food, clothing, Bible studies and medical attention for women and children. So far on the medical side, a paediatrician comes and sees children voluntarily once a week. One mother thanked us and said this is the first time in 2 years that someone has shown genuine interest in her child, medically. Each family has a story to tell, most of which are heartbreaking.


Pray for these precious people from Afghanistan, who have witnessed unspeakable violence and killings of friends and family by the Taliban. They carry a heavy burden of pain, loss and traumatic memories. Pray for our staff, as they try to communicate God’s love through word and deed, in order to make a difference, one life at a time! Our urgent need for local medical staff. We praise the Lord for several Christian Greek doctors who have shown interest in this ministry. So far we have found a paediatrician and a dentist. But please continue to pray for more doctors to commit to our team and help on a weekly basis. We are still looking for a gynecologist and a general pathologist. Christmas Love Meals, December 15. Pray for Bruce McAtee & team as they prepare for these major events, reaching out to refugees and homeless people. Approx. $13,000 are needed for the Christmas Love Meals (Gifts and food for approx. 600 people.) Please pray for many people to be touched by the Gospel message and for our team to show the love of Christ through every act of service in His Name!


$85,000 remaining for Bible payment. Praise the Lord for a gift of 45,000 Euro that was donated towards Bibles in November. Pray for the OJ Team which is working hard to plan this summer’s operation. Pray for wisdom in decision making and for the 450 participants needed to reach our target. In 2013, by God’s grace we aim to cover 3 provinces in Northern Greece, starting at the Bulgarian border.

Bible distribution.

Covered so far:

80 Islands 9.5 Prefectures 2,726 Villages 214,484 Km driven

Given so far:

454,897 New Testaments

With the help of:

1,604 Participants

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

Soup kitchen December 2011!

The Church is sick!

Matthew 25:34-40.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Soup kitchen 2012!

Next Sunday 16th December 2012. (Speak to Precious or Candice)

Next Saturday Michael’s Home cell are doing a Christmas lunch at the Old Age Home.


Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (