Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Signs of a Dying Church

"If you are not growing, you're dying."- Rick Warren

It was a profound statement in The Purpose Driven Church. It stood out. It said a lot in a brief conditional statement. Not growing? You most probably are dying. You may not want to hear it, but its sting is real.

  • Are there unmet needs within your church?

  • Are you evangelizing?

  • Is your congregation making an impact on its community?

  • How is your participation for Sunday school, prayer meeting, and Bible study?

  • Is there demographic diversity within your church (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.)?

  • Are you baptizing and indoctrinating new members? How often? Do they stay?

  • What do people say about your church in the community (barbershop, beauty salon, social gatherings, etc.)?

Beyond all of these questions, you have to take a long hard look at what is happening around you. Is there a drop in offerings and tithes? Is your attendance off? Is it just a gut feeling? or, do you really know so because of the data. Have your staff or trustee board develop spreadsheets and charts that give you some accurate numbers to start working with as soon as possible. Start talking with stakeholders like staff, key volunteers like ministry leaders, deacons, elders, and trustees, and others. See what is really going on.

Have you noticed these signs in your church? One or more may be present at the same time.

Signs of a dying church?

  • Complacency

  • Conflicts

  • Commonplace

  • Closed-mindedness

There are more signs, but this is just a short list of the signs that lead to death. If these are recurring problems for your congregation, start thinking of how to change hearts and minds. Do you need to start a church-wide campaign like a Bible study series on discipleship or church conduct? Could you conduct a retreat with your key stakeholders? How about conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis and developing some concrete action steps? Maybe your congregation would benefit from a simple sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes, even the early church, with a follow-up study in small groups or Sunday school.

You need to stop the bleeding at least. You need to bring the life back into your church. Remember: if you are not dying, you may be simply decaying which is only a slow death nonetheless.

"The minister is to use all means to save some."- C.H. Spurgeon

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