Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Why Churches Die

No church wants to die.  And I am no church growth expert.  Nor am I an expert on dying churches.  But in traveling all over the world working with churches, I have learned that there are some common things I see in churches that seem to be drying up and dying.

So here are things I notice in churches that are dying.

It is hard to grow a family without any new births.  Churches that are not evangelistic are going to die.  So think about how many non-believers your church is converting.  If most of your baptisms are your own kids, you are a dying church.

Inbred churches are not healthy and are going to die.  This is obviously a result of not being evangelistic but survey your church to find out how many members are third, fourth, and fifth generation Christians.  First generation Christians want to share what they have found.  They bring life and excitement.  Even second generation Christians can see the difference Jesus has made in their family.  But by the third or fourth generation, there seems to be a dramatic shift to an inward focus.

Because dying churches are all about themselves.  They are concerned with having their needs met.  And if your church does not meet their perceived needs, down the road they go.

Dying churches think they are growing if they get enough troop transfers.  Christians leaving other congregations to come to yours because you offer something the last church did not.  But eventually you do not offer enough to keep up with the church down the road, so...

Dying churches spend more time on what they are against than what they are for ... even preaching against other churches.  You know, take the spotlight off of us.

Dying churches make excuses for shrinking.  Culture, the economy, the preacher, the youth program.  It starts with individual families but sometimes becomes a hallmark of your church.  Blame, blame blame.  Well, blame everyone but us.

Dying churches are much more worried about keeping who they have than reaching out.  Don't do that or this group will leave.  Do this or that group will not stay.

Dying churches worry more about being popular than faithful.  And everyone of them denies it.  They want to be popular with culture, or popular within their religious tribe.  Or with certain segments of their tribe.  They become obsessed with what others think.

Dying churches are constantly reinventing who they are.  Be careful of leaders that know more about the latest congregational survey, or the latest trends in Christianity, than they know about Scripture.

Dying churches talk way more than they act.  

And every dying church I have ever known has people that refuse to see the signs.  They are not inward focused, they are not entertainment driven, and they are not catering to culture.  And they will cling to that conviction until they shut the doors.

But here is the good news.  All it takes is for some members -- doesn't even have to be your preachers or leaders -- to decide they are going to live radically for Jesus.  When you start doing that, others notice and some of them will also start living in radical, courageous ways.  Start serving those in need around you.  Emotional needs, physical needs.  You do not need permission.  You do not need a program.  Just start.  Others will be inspired to do the same.

And start telling people about Jesus.

It changes everything.

And all of a sudden you are growing.  The Kingdom expands as new births occur.  And they reach others who reach others who reach others.

So God help us to grow your Kingdom.  We want to partner in bringing this world back to you.  Help us to be courageous enough to take the focus off of us and to trust you.  We want to make disciples of your Son.  


Steve, just read your blog post. Good stuff! Thank you.
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