Recently I posted a note on Twitter that got a lot of response: “When a church refuses to adapt its methods, it has already voted to die—it just hasn't set the date.”
On that same note, Thom Rainer posted an article at his own website last week on five ways churches vote to die. He writes: “What are churches doing specifically that leads to their demise? Here are five of the more common choices."
• They refuse to face reality. I was in a dying church recently. The congregational average attendance was 425 seven years ago. Today it is 185. I could find no one in the church who thought the trends were bad. They were in a state of delusion and denial.
• They are more concerned about greater comfort than the Great Commission. Church membership has become self-serving. The church is more like a country club than the body of Christ. People are paying dues to get what they want in the church. It’s all about their preferences and desires.
• They are unwilling to accept responsibility. It’s the fault of culture. All the new churches in town are to blame. If someone wants to come to our church, they know where we are. People just don’t want to come to church anymore. Excuses and more excuses. I never have been in a community that is nearly fully churched. There are many people to reach. Excuses preclude obedience.
• They are too busy fighting and criticizing. If we could take the energy of church critics and antagonists into reaching people with the gospel, our churches would become evangelistic forces. Unfortunately in many churches, members expend most of their energies criticizing leadership and others and fighting about trivial issues.
• They are confusing non-negotiables with negotiables. Almost 10 years ago, a couple of men who live near me asked to visit with me in my home. They wanted me to consider visiting their church. One of the men told me his church was one of the few in the area defending the faith. I asked him what he meant by that. He explained that the faith was one particular Bible translation and traditional hymns. I wasn’t sure what happened to the bodily resurrection and substitutionary atonement. The church died within seven years. Read the rest of the article here.
Churches can be revitalized, but it will take leaders and congregations willing to turn their backs on the graveyard and toward a new vision for kingdom ministry.
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