8 More Reasons Churches Do Not Grow
Why are so many churches declining in membership and weekly attendance? What is causing so many churches to close their doors and sell their property?
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination, in June of 2015 reported that “Southern Baptists are adding more churches but serving fewer members who are giving fewer dollars.” (Baptist Press, Nashville)
In 2015, the Assembly of God denomination also reported that their churches were not seeing any significant growth. This denomination reported that 326 churches were opened while 278 churches were closed. This report shows a net change of only 48 churches for this denomination.
These are just two stats of two denominations that are repeating itself throughout the United States. What is causing this to take place? Why are so many churches not growing?
1. A Biblical Foundation is Missing
Dr. Chuck Lawless writes that “No church with an unbiblical theology can be healthy.” He goes on to note that “Teaching theology is critical, but a theology that does not lead to intentional evangelism, disciple making, and global missions is not biblical.” (10 Church Diseases, Dr. Chuck Lawless)
Any church that does not have a Biblically strong theological basis will find itself in a mode of decline. Those fellowships that build all they do upon a Bible-based foundation will find themselves in a healthy, growing experience.
2. Pastoral Leadership is Absent
Depending on who you ask, the average stay of a lead pastor in most Protestant denominations is somewhere between 3 and 5 years. The absence of long tenure for leaders has a powerful influence upon any congregation. If you figure it takes a year for a pastor to learn his congregation and somewhere around a year to make a departure, that will only leave one year to engage in personal service for a three-year stay.
3. Lay Leadership is Not Active in the Church
When the responsibility of caring for the congregation falls upon one or two people that fellowship will not do well. This truth was known even in the Old Testament when Jethro told his son-in-law, Moses, that he could not take care of God’s people by himself. (Exodus 18:18)Every person in the fellowship needs to know their role.
4. The Mission of the Church Has No Purpose
A dying church does not embrace the commands of Jesus.
Jesus gave his disciples a clear mission. He told them to go into the world, make disciples, baptize them and teach them to practice all they were taught. (Matthew 28:16-20)
5. Complex Organization is Stronger Than a Simple Ministry Strategy
Churches that do not grow do not have a clear plan for their ministry.
Thom Rainer wrote in the Simple Church, “Research shows that when you receive frequent interruptions while working on a task, your performance drops the equivalent of ten IQ points. In other words, when you multi-task you are ten points dumber on the core task than you are if you just focused on the core task. Some of us cannot afford to multi-task.”
Many churches have too many programs and a complex organization.
6. Conflicts Are Not Quickly Resolved
Conflicts develop in every congregation. Conflicts can be resolved. However, if conflicts go unattended, they will destroy the spirit and the character of any church.
All churches must have a strategy to resolve conflicts. The Apostle Paul wrote, ““If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18, NASB)
This advice of Paul calls for a strategy to resolve conflict.
7. A Goal to Grow the Entire Membership is Absent
Every church is more than just a children’s program or a senior adult ministry. When a congregation focuses on a select group and ignores others, it will miss opportunities to spread its ministry. The unique combination of every church calls for the congregation to nurture and grow every member.
8. Debt Destroys the Vision
Any group of believers that is sharing a large church debt may find it discouraging. In fact, a debt of any kind can destroy the ability to see a hopeful future. A church consumed by debt will find it difficult to see the clear directions of the Lord.
These are 8 reasons churches do not grow in a healthy fashion. What else would you add to this list?