I love new pastors. It is fascinating to hear their thoughts after they have served as a pastor for a year or two.
I am assuming I have a few more years left in ministry. And this point in my life is both a time of reflection and looking forward. To be clear, I want to avoid seven dangers in my last years of ministry.
This post is not about a pleasant topic. It's about churches that have declined to the point where their near term future is in doubt.
Two-thirds of our churches are plateaued or declining. Since so many of our churches are in need of revitalization, let's begin by seeing what roadblocks hinder turnarounds.
The topic of evangelism has grown strangely quiet in many churches. Pastors are not talking about it. Other church leaders aren't talking about it. Members aren't talking about it.
Growing churches are growing largely by transfer growth. Most of them are not reaching people with the gospel. They are growing at the expense of other churches.
Let's take a few moments and look at the churches whose average worship attendance grew from 2013 to 2016. Here are five of the surprising discoveries from this research.
I am troubled by one major aspect of the research we just conducted. If your church has fewer than 100 in worship, it is likely to be a declining church.
Have you ever heard, "80 percent of churches are either plateaued or declining"? I have. It's wrong. Here are the results of our research.
I've seen too many people in vocational ministry fail to launch. Perhaps "launch" is not the best term, because they may stay in ministry for many years. But they never seem to do well.
The pendulum swings in churches. The congregation does not like a previous direction, so they overcompensate with the next move they make.
I developed Church Answers to create a safe place for church leaders to ask questions and interact with each other. It was also the best way to handle the volume of inquiries that come to me.
"What did you have or do in your church ten years ago that you don't have or do today?" The top twenty responses were, for me at least, a fascinating mix of the expected and the surprises.
It's not a pleasant topic. But if we don't talk about dying churches, we will act like there are no problems.
Sick churches become dying churches. Dying churches become closed churches. In order to help create greater awareness, I have described illustratively seven personality types of sick churches.
There are several dangerous and debilitating attitudes in churches that are killing evangelism. Here are six of them
Deacons are a mystery in many churches. In some churches, they act more like elders or a board of directors. But what is a deacon supposed to do?
Many church members and leaders resist change. They seek stability and comfort over obedience and sacrifice. Let's look at five key reasons why stability is bad for a church.
The internet allows cowardly critics to hide behind a keyboard and cut people to the core through blogs, social media, and email. So how do we respond when we get a hurtful email?
About 20 years ago, a church member was considered active in the church if he or she attended three times a week. Today, a church member is considered active in the church if he or she attends three times a month.
By the time I am contacted about a serious problem in a church, it is often too late. There are eight clear signs evident in many churches on the precipice of closing.
There are five imminent danger signs in churches today. I am not speaking of just those churches that have abandoned core doctrines.
Change or die. Such has been the reality of too many congregations the past ten years as the rate of church closures has accelerated. But what are some of the major changes that have taken place in congregations that are doing relatively well?
Most churches keep their members so busy they don't have time to do ministry. Most churches keep their members so busy they don't have time to do ministry. Indeed, I spoke to a lay elder of a church recently who told me he simply did not have time to get to know his neighbors because he was so busy in his church.
I remain an obnoxious optimist about the future of American congregations. No, I don't have my head in the sand.