“Here’s a deep, cosmic truth for you: Healthy Things Grow.” This is the beginning of one of the chapters in Robert Morris’ book, The Blessed Church. It is so simple—yet so true and so powerful. Look at a child. A significant indicator in the health of an infant is their growth rate. In the developmental growth of a toddler you look for language and social/environmental awareness. This principle is immensely personal to me. One of the key indicators that something was wrong with Stephen was his lack of healthy response to others and things in his environment. 1998-2000 we were at the Lapeer Church of Christ and his cradle roll teacher happened to be a Speech and Language Pathologist, Stephen would have been 1-2 years old. She noticed a developmental delay when Stephen didn’t respond to certain things that got responses from his classmates. She shared those concerns with Treneé. She became a significant instigator in our pursuit of discovering what was “unhealthy” in Stephen. I thank God for Paula Garrett.
This truth can be applied to all sorts of things: a healthy understanding of algebra allows a student to grow in the higher mathematics of trigonometry and calculus. Healthy companies and corporations—those that have a clear purpose and vision, who treat their employees (from the janitor or clerk up to the manager or executive) as valuable—these companies are often rated among the best to work for and they continue to grow. The growth of these companies only stops when the health of the company fails.
The same truth applies to individual Christians. A quick look at the Jesus’ Parable of the Sower reveals this. Four soils receive seeds, it is the good soil, the healthy soil that produces a plentiful crop. The path wasn’t healthy, it was too compacted and the seed didn’t even sprout. The rocky soil wasn’t healthy, the soil was so thin that the seed couldn’t take root. The thorny soil was so overrun with weeds and thorns that there wasn’t enough water and nutrient to allow the seed to grow. I believe the truth also applies to churches. Healthy churches grow. A church is made up of its members. It is not a building—it is a body of believers. If the individual members of the body are healthy, if the leadership is healthy, the body will grow. If not, the church will stagnate and die. Churches that lack love and compassion don’t make people feel welcome or cared for. Churches that lack unity have great division and tend to split, and re-split. One of the greatest indicators of the health of the church in first three centuries was its spectacular growth. I believe we will see growth at the Valley if all of us were to improve the health of our commitment to God.