Nine out of ten churches in America are either declining, or they are growing so slowly they are not keeping up with the growth rate of the community in which they are located.
Though there are many different reasons given, these pastors did share one reason much more frequently than any others.
I am confident because of who I am in Christ. But if someone expected me to perform open-heart surgery tomorrow, I wouldn't be confident.
The stories are tragic but too common. Different members of a church staff unite in opposition to other staff.
It seems to be a Catch-22. If your congregation is older, the way to reach younger families is to have younger families in your church. But the reason the congregation is older is because it has few or no younger families.
In many circles, the church bulletin or worship folder is perceived to be old school, the tool of staid and traditional churches. Leaders with such a perspective are missing an incredible opportunity to put something in the hands of guests that, at least anecdotally, increases the chances they will return.
On November 1, 2014, I wrote a blog post about ten ways churches drive away first-time guests. Those top ten ways came from an informal Twitter poll. I was surprised by the number of responses we received for both the poll and the blog post.
In the broadest sense, a chaplain refers to those who are assigned to care and provide ministry for a specific group of people. Military and hospital chaplains, for example, have clearly defined groups who come under their care and ministry.
One of the more frequent question readers have asked me is: "Do you think the term 'church member' is still relevant?"
There is rarely a simple explanation for the decline of a church. It is often a complex mix of cultural, theological, attitudinal, and internal issues. In this article, I address the latter issue.
If you get a group of pastors and church staff together, you will inevitably hear some pretty unusual comments they received from church members. So I did an informal Twitter poll to get some of these comments in writing.
At some point in my ministry, I became allergic to committee meetings. I realized I was spending a lot of time in those meetings that could be used for productive ministry.
I recently gave away thousands of my books in my library. I only have a few left. In the exercise of deciding which few books I would keep, I asked myself a hypothetical question: What if could keep only 25 of the books?
Few people are truly aware of the constant requests, complaints, and criticisms pastors and other church leaders receive. I must admit, however, I was surprised when I asked church leaders on Twitter to share some of the more unusual comments they have received.
I would have never expected the response to a topic that seemed so innocuous. On this blog many people were very vocal that they really didn't like the stand-and-greet time during the worship services.
Growth is indeed more difficult today in American congregations. And there are some clear reasons why this reality is true.
One of the more frequent questions I get is somewhat related to leading change in the church. The expressions of frustrations are often the result of different expectations. For example, a pastor search committee may tell a pastoral candidate they want to see change in the church. But their understanding of the level of change is far different than the perception of the candidate.
I will then ask the obvious question: "What happened?" My question is straightforward because I know most church leaders will identify a singular event that precipitated the momentum reversal. In this article, I identify seven of the most common "momentum stoppers."
Many of the comments I have received have been shared in anonymity, and I certainly understand the need to keep names confidential. But the comments are real and verbatim. And many times I can feel the hopes and hurts that come with these comments. Here are the eleven most frequent thoughts from pastors' spouses:
Hopefully, such stories are rare. But we do have reasons to be concerned when church members and Christian leaders treat restaurant servers and other service employees so poorly. Allow me to outline seven key concerns.
If your church has one service at 11:00 am on Sunday mornings, it is likely in the minority. In a recent reader survey we conducted with 1,649 responses, slightly over half of the congregations had only one worship service on Sunday morning, and the times of that single service varied.
God addressed the issue in two primary ways. First, He spoke to three key leaders for them to be His catalysts for rebuilding (Haggai 1:1-2). Second, God commanded the people of Judah to change their behaviors, to move from selfish behavior to selfless behavior. They obeyed (Haggai 1:12). They rebuilt the house of God (Haggai 1:14).
Indeed, these unfortunate and ill-timed comments almost always guarantee that you will offend guests and make them very uncomfortable. Most of the time guests are already ill at ease since they are in a new place and a new environment. By the way, each of these quotes was actually communicated to a guest in a worship service. My guess is that all ten of them have been said many times . . . too many times.
So what are some of the key reasons we are seeing the breakdown of unity in our churches? Though my list is not exhaustive, allow me to share fourteen of those reasons.
There is one type of church revitalization that is more successful than all others. The church closes its doors for a season, and then re-opens, usually with a new name and new leadership. I know this approach is not an option for most of you, so I gathered data from the "other" category. This category includes churches that kept the same name and, for the most part, the same leadership.