5 Reasons Churches Die

It is no secret that many churches in our country are struggling. Statistics indicate that over 60% of churches are stagnated or are in decline. Another 25% of churches that are seeing some growth are growing slower than their communities. Some estimate that over 4,000 churches close their doors each year.

These stats present a bleak picture, and while there can be several contributing factors, many can’t help but try to identify some of the common reasons. Some of the factors are indeed outside of a church’s control, but what are some of the characteristics that a church can control? Here are five that I have seen firsthand. 

The Church Prioritizes Comfort over Pursuing its Mission.

A church cannot prioritize its comfort and its mission at the same time. One is always sacrificed. I have seen churches say ‘no’ to opportunities that would bring new people to their church due to the inconvenience it would cause. A deacon once told me that “too many kids in a church will always result in dirty carpet.” While I can’t argue against his point, I will always take the dirty carpet. 

Churches cannot sacrifice their mission on the altar of comfort. When they do, a decline in the church is inevitable.

Evangelism Is the Pastor’s Job.

A pastor I know recently preached a message on the importance of evangelism and sharing our faith. After the service, a long-time member approached him and said, “That was a great message. Our church does need to be more evangelistic. That’s why we hired you – to do that for us.” 

ertainly, pastors need to be evangelistic, but when most of a church views this as the pastor’s job, there is a problem.

Leadership Is Only for The Established Members.

I certainly see the wisdom in not placing a new believer or someone that no one knows in a leadership position, but when every church leader has been at the church for more than 20 years, there may be issues. This may indicate an “us four and no more” mentality. Leaders must be cultivated, trained, and empowered for a church to grow. When the leadership pipeline dries up, so does the church.

Many Long-Time Members Would Rather the Church Die Than Change.

This is sad but a reality in many churches. I understand that not all change is good, but I also know that some change is always needed. The only organisms that do not change are the ones that are dead.

A church that will accept no change is usually willing to accept death. To loosely quote Albert Mohler, “These churches die by congregational suicide.”

There is No Prayer.

Prayer demonstrates a focus on and dependence upon God. When there is no substantive prayer, it is an indication that God is not in clear view. It indicates that He is not needed to accomplish what the church seeks to do. When there is no substantive prayer in the life of a church, there is usually no ‘life’ in that church.

Closing Thoughts

These are only a few wrong mindsets that can contribute to the decline of a church. While we cannot solve all of them, pastors can advocate for more prayer. Pastors can develop leaders. Pastors can lead in pursuing the church’s mission. Pastors can disciple others to help them be more evangelistic. 

Let’s commit to the battle of prayerfully leading our people out of these wrong mindsets.

Related Posts: