Have you ever known someone who has died unexpectedly? Our community has had several of those stories this year. It’s scary to think one day everything is fine, and the next day you or someone you love is suddenly gone. Luckily, it doesn’t work like that in the church. I don’t know of any stories of churches that are fine one week, then close their doors the next. In every case of a church closing, there are always similar signs.
If we learn how to identify these signs, then maybe we can do something before it’s too late.
With that in mind, here are 5 signs your church is in decline.
- You’ve stopped looking at the numbers. I hate this trend going around in smaller churches that says not to worry about the numbers. It makes absolutely no sense to me. It’s like someone who’s trying to lose weight that refuses to get on a scale. How will you ever know if you’re successful or not? It’s this thought of, I don’t want to be disappointed, so I’ll just hide my head in the sand and ignore what’s going on around me. Do numbers tell the whole story? Absolutely not, but they can tell you how many people have been baptized in your church this year, how many first time guests have walked through the doors, or what percentage of your church is serving. What’s your other option? Oh, it felt pretty good in service today. We’re gonna go on feelings now? There are plenty of people who felt good one day and were gone the next.
- You talk more about the past than the future. This happens in just about every church that’s been around more than ten years. People love talking about the past, mainly because they remember what God was doing back then. Most of them would stop bringing it up if God was doing something in your church right now. For God to do that, you may need to make some changes.
- You have plenty of money in the bank. I have no clue what that is like, but I know a lot of small town churches that do. Instead of using the money to invest in new initiatives to reach people, they let it sit in the bank and draw interest. So, even though no one new is showing up to church, at least their mortgage is paid off and they’re able to pay their light bill.
- People aren’t taking next steps. How many salvations did your church see last year? Baptisms? How many of those people are still attending the church? Are people showing up to Sunday School or small groups? Do you have a hard time finding volunteers? If people aren’t taking steps in your church, there’s a good chance they are stepping out of your church.
- New guests are rare or non-existent. The average church loses 15% of its congregation each year. Some of them move away, some of them change job schedules, and some of them have either chosen to go to a different church or have walked away from church altogether. Unless new people get connected to your church, your church is going to decline. So, do you have a plan in place to get new people to show up and a way to keep them showing up? If not, you’re in trouble.
I hope this posts scares some of you into taking action in your church. If you’re seeing signs of decline, you need to do something about it now. If you wait too long, you may not be able to reverse the trend. If I can help, please let me know by visiting my contact page and sending me a message. And if you’ve been here before and have reversed the trend, please tell us about it in the comments below.