Forget Numbers: What Are the Signs of a Healthy Church

Numbers may inform us, but they don’t define us.

Signs of a Healthy Church

“If numbers aren’t the only way to tell if a church is healthy, what else is there?” I get that question a lot. Mostly from other pastors. And no, they’re not being facetious when they ask it. They truly don’t know the answer to what are the signs of a healthy church.

Isn’t that … I don’t know … a little disturbing to anyone? Have we really become so obsessed with numbers that many pastors don’t know what a healthy church looks like outside of crunching the numbers?

No, I’m not opposed to taking church attendance or tracking our numbers. I’m in favor of it. Numbers can help us see things objectively that we might otherwise be blind to.

But just like a lack of numbers can blind us to some critical facts, an obsession with numbers can blind us to essential truths. Numbers are not the only way to determine church health. In some situations, they’re not even the best way.

Numbers may inform us, but they don’t define us. So, what non-numerical criteria can we use to determine church health? I’ve been compiling a list of signs of a healthy church. It started as six or seven. As of today, it has 23 elements. I’ve been waiting until the list was complete to publish it, but I’ve come realize it will never be complete. So consider this a starter list.

23 Signs of a Healthy Church

1. Volunteers care more about doing ministry than having a title.

2. There are more ministry teams than committees.

3. Departments cooperate with each other.

4. The church cooperates with other churches.

5. The church looks like the neighborhood (demographically).

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Karl Vaters
Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.