What is a Thriving Church?

What is a

A thriving congregation shares radical hospitality in all areas of ministry and service, is passionate in the worship of God in Christ Jesus, is rooted in faith development that is biblical and increases knowledge of the changing cultural landscape in which it serves, is committed to risk-taking mission and service, and is highly generous in sharing and willing to sacrifice, resulting in joyous giving out of love for God and neighbor.

5 Key Characteristics

These characteristics, partnered with clear and compelling vision, mission and values, produces the kinds of churches that are fruitful and THRIVE.

Radical Hospitality

Radical Hospitality
The congregation invests prayer, time, talent, and money in ministries to demonstrate an active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ. Radical describes that which is drastically different from ordinary practices, outside the normal (not just friendly and courteous, passively receiving visitors warmly) that which exceeds expectations and goes the second mile.

Passionate Worship

Passionate Worship
The congregation invests prayer, time, talent, and money in ministries so that worship is a time where people gather deliberately seeking to encounter God in Christ. God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another. The word passionate expresses an intense desire, an ardent spirit, strong feelings, and a sense of heightened importance. Passionate Worship is alive, authentic, engaging, and fresh – and people so eagerly desire such worship that they will reorder their lives to attend.


Intentional Faith Development

Intentional Faith Development
The congregation invests prayer, time, talent, and money in ministries to help members and the community grow in faith outside of weekly worship, but beyond the typical Wednesday night bible studies and Sunday School classes. The church has support groups, small groups, prayer teams, and more! Congregations that practice Intentional Faith Development offer opportunities for people to learn in community for people at all stages of faith. They offer ministries that help people grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God. Intentional refers to deliberate effort, purposeful action, and high priority.

Mission and

Risk-Taking Mission and Service

Risk Taking Mission and Service
The congregation invests prayer, time, talent, and money in ministries for Mission and Service, such as projects, efforts, and work people do to make a positive difference in the lives of others (inside and outside the church) for the purposes of Christ, whether or not they will ever become part of the community of faith (the local church). Risk-taking pushes members of the congregation and church leadership out of their comfort zone, stretching them beyond service to people they already know, exposing the church to people, situations, and needs that it would never ordinarily encounter apart from their deliberate intention to serve Christ. Congregations that practice Risk-taking Mission and Service offer endless opportunities for people to make a difference in the lives of others through service projects, volunteer opportunities, and mission initiatives.


Extravagant Generosity

Extravagant Generosity
Generosity describes the church’s unselfish willingness to give to make a positive difference for the purposes of Christ. Congregations that practice Extravagant Generosity provide ministries that address our spiritual need to give in ways that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures. Fruitful congregations thrive because of extraordinary sharing, willing sacrifice, and joyous giving out of love for God and neighbor.

Note: The characteristics and definitions provided are adapted from the “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations,” by Robert Schnase.