When one of our leaders said these words, it was paradigm shift for me: “Lee Lee, the church should be a hospital, not an art museum.” The implications of this shot sparks in my brain and a click happened. God’s church isn’t where we put on a display to try to impress others, it’s where we gather—sick with sin—at the feet of the Great Healer. 

But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked His disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:16, 17 NLT).

As a hospital, we operate with the mindset that when our doors open on Sabbath, we are welcoming fellow sinners and introducing them to the great healer, Jesus. We all need spiritual, physical, and emotional healing. We recognize that Jesus is the answer to that need and we are anxious to share this truth on Sabbath, as well as during the week to those with whom we interact.

A healthy church

A healthy church begins with the ironic realization that we are not healthy. But we know the good news of who can heal us and we are so excited to share! When we share, we attract the sick who desire to be healthy in the following ways:

  1. We love people more than doctrine. We believe that when Jesus is lifted up each week in our services, people will fall more in love with Him and with each other. We believe it is who you know that changes what you do; relationship comes first. We also believe that safe people make safe spaces. When the people who attend our church experience the healing power of Christ in their own lives, they become safe people. The result is a safe space for others to come experience the same. We encourage and model vulnerability in our leadership as they share testimonies, sermons, worship, and pray up front during the services.
  2. We strive to create an atmosphere of grace and acceptance the minute anyone walks through our doors. We call our greeters “Ambassadors of First Impressions,” and match people who have the spiritual gift of hospitality and a genuine heart for people to that role. We realize that many people view church as a hostile, judgmental environment, so we cultivate a warm, accepting atmosphere to help people see that they are beloved by God, no strings attached. No matter what you look like or what you are wearing, you are greeted as a long-lost friend. We work to provide this welcoming experience to every person every week, whether they are a first-time guest or a long-time member.
  3. We realize that it takes time to truly love people. We are not a church that has formulas and systems for conversion, but rather people to love and truth to share. It starts with the leadership; our leadership invests in informal mentorship on a continual basis. We desire to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the work He is doing to woo and convict hearts, so we pray for the Spirit to show us who we need to invest time in. Deeper relationships with us help grow deeper relationships with Jesus. We also emphasize discipleship through weekly small groups. “Doing life together” on a weekly basis results in a healthier family of Christ followers.

Jesus’ model

Ultimately, The Adventure Church desires to follow Jesus’ model of a healthy church. We often say, “We do as Jesus do!”

We embrace the unhealthy and introduce them to the Great Healer who offers them abundant life now and forever. Then we do life together as friends of Jesus.

Lee Lee Dart is senior pastor of The Adventure Church in Greeley, Colorado.