Recently, Tim Limberg, Amy Lindstrom and I were invited to a Vitality conference in Chicago, hosted by the Evangelical Covenant Church (the family of churches to which we belong).
And we learned that one of the shifts in Vitality at the national level is the renaming of this initiative, from “Congregational Vitality” to “Missional Vitality.” You’ll be seeing this name change and re-branding in future communications from our Vitality Team. It’s a good reminder that vital churches are mission-focused and mission-driven churches, committed to seeing more people find new life in Christ, who form communities of loving and devoted Jesus-followers intent on participating with God’s Spirit in creating a more loving and just world.
Over the years, Covenant leaders have identified ten marks (or characteristics) of healthy and missional churches. It’s also important to note that all of these markers are undergirded by prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. So take a look at these ten marks below, along with some language I’m “trying on” with our leadership and congregation, and let’s see if we can own and live into these marks of healthy and missional churches as Rochester Covenant Church:
- Centrality of the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16)
Hungry for God’s Word, we embrace the Bible as our ultimate authority for faith, belief and daily living. We preach, study, discuss and reflect on God’s Word and are willing to tackle tough issues, eager to integrate what we’re learning from the Scriptures into our life and ministry.
- Life transforming walk with Jesus (John 3:3, 30; Philippians 1:6; Romans 12:1-2)
We value life-transformation--beginning with ourselves. We pursue a personal, growing relationship with Jesus Christ, participating with God’s Spirit to renew our minds and transform every part of our being, so we can think as God thinks, love what God loves, do what God wants us to do.
- Intentional evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20)
We will do whatever it takes to see people consistently coming to know Christ, as we BLESS others by praying for them and listening, eating together, serving them and sharing the Good News of Jesus and what God is doing in our own lives. We share God’s heartbeat for the least, the lost and the lonely as we throw “parties for sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13, 10:8; 25:35-36; Luke 15), and follow God’s lead into strategic locations, relationships and partnerships in our communities and the world around us.
- Heartfelt worship (Psalm 138:1; John 4:23)
We are eager to engage God in worship, singing, praying, and learning with enthusiasm as we lay aside our personal preferences for the needs of others and the glory of God.
- Compelling Christian community (Acts 2:42-47)
We invest in deep, loving and safe relationships with each other as believers. We seek out relationships with believers from those different from us—younger and older, old-timers and newcomers, and those from different ethnic groups—to spend time weekly exploring God’s word together, building friendships, and breaking bread and pray together. Our love and care for each other and others will cause others to notice and ask what God is up to among us.
- Transforming communities through active compassion, mercy, and justice ministries (Micah 6:8)
We want to help hurting people and address the causes of that hurt in the Greater Rochester area. We will join God in making things right in our broken world as we love, serve, and work together with people at the margins toward holistic individual, family and community transformation.
- Global perspective and engagement (Acts 1:8)
We will extend the whole gospel to the whole world by engaging in global partnerships to make and deepen disciples, start and strengthen churches, develop leaders, love mercy and do justice, and join the rest of the global church in engaging in God’s mission, Including going on short-term missions trips and equipping and sending people to pursue God’s Kingdom work around the world.
- Sacrificial and generous living and giving (Romans 12:1-8)
We will live by faith and give and serve with abandon to build up Christ’s body, knowing it is impossible to out-give God.
- Culture of godly leadership (Hebrews 13:7)
We will trust and honor each other and our leaders, believing the best of each other as we work through conflict constructively, and work in harmony towards God’s Kingdom goals.
- Fruitful organizational structures (Exodus 18:13-26; Acts 6:1-7)
We will continue to organize ourselves in ways that best serve our mission and will embrace evaluation as normal and natural.
What do you think? I welcome your feedback on these! Drop me a note at or give me a call, or catch me sometime as we find ways to pursue these priorities as a congregation in the months ahead!
--Steve Eng, lead pastor