Every year an estimated 4,000 churches close their doors? (That is 334 each month, 83 each week, 12 each day). Fortunately, in 2010 denominations, networks and churches, for the first time, planted more churches than closed.
Every living organism has a life-cycle; churches are no different. If those who lead the church are not careful, they will find themselves on the downward slide of that life-cycle. Why are churches across America dying? Here are 10 deadly sins churches commit that lead them down that road. Each of these sins, to varying degrees, can be seen in stagnant and dying churches.
1. Doctrinal Drift
In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down doctrinal to create an environment for “seekers“. I dislike the term “Seeker Sensitive” the scripture isn’t very sensitive in many ways. Rather, we should think in terms of “seeker intelligibility”. The Word of God may not be very sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make no mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of the mush.
2. Evangelism Atrophy
Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.
3. Failure To Be Relevant
The Gospel was not written in a cultural vacuum. The Bible was written thousands of years ago, in a particular historicl culture and context. It still applies today, but we must learn to understand it in the cultural context in which it was writte befoer we can apply it to the 21st century. Doing church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.
4. Vision Drift
While no one will readily admit it, most churches have lost their vision. Instead of being “Good News” to the world, it has become a social club for the already saved.
5. Personal Conflict
Church members have found a way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power struggles rule the day.
6. A Priority Of Comfort
Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.
7. Biblical Illiteracy
The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says. Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly quoted as scripture.
It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we, like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.
9. Failure to Follow
Too many cooks in the kitchen. Too often pastors are treated like hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job.
You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive. Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church and forgotten the main thing.