Growing Healthy Congregations

Growing Healthy Congregations

“When congregations grow their capacity to respond to the needs of their members and participants, increasingly embody the ways of Jesus within their shared life, pay attention to the voice and movement of the Spirit among them, and look for ways to participate in God’s work in the world—they are healthy.” 

This is how Kathy Giesbrecht, MCM’s Director of Congregational Ministries, describes “congregational health.” Kathy’s role was created in 2021 to respond to an identified need by delegates at our 2018 MCM Gathering, prioritizing congregational health. Pandemic realities delayed these plans, but in September 2021 the MCM Board called for a re-focusing on this priority. 

Initially it was thought that an assessment tool for congregational health was most urgent. However, the pandemic has changed congregational priorities, turning us toward deeper, more foundational questions. 

“As I’ve been sitting with congregational leaders and worshiping with our congregations,” Kathy says, “I have sensed both lament and longing. Walking forward we need the courage, tools, and supports to re-visit basic questions and discern our responses. Who are we now? What changes are required for us to be healthy? What is ours to do and be, in these days?” 

Kathy and other MCM staff are working at ways to develop a more integrated approach to supporting MCM’s congregations toward greater vitality. As congregational health involves three dimensions—a healthy internal life of worship, faith formation, and congregational care, a healthy external life of mission to the community and the wider world, and a healthy structure to support these aspects of being a church—so we need to attend to all three of these dimensions in a holistic way. 

“Congregational life is an interconnected life,” Kathy notes, “our wounds and weaknesses live along side our healing and strengths. When we gather for worship, we hold all of our life before God, asking for the courage and grace to attend to all that is festering and stirring among us. The fruit of health is transformation and freedom, particularly freedom to take on suffering and sacrifice.” 

Pray for Kathy and other MCM staff as they walk alongside congregations through challenging conversations, pastoral transitions, missional questions, and more. Pray for the health and vitality of our congregations, that they might become the kind of “healthy congregation” Kathy describes above. To support this and other ministries of MCM financially, see