Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

5 Signs Your Church Has Reached a Tipping Point

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It’s not unusual nowadays to hear about congregations having to close their doors. We don’t like to talk about it but churches die. Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18 that his church would never die. In that passage, Jesus was speaking of the global church. This means that his church will always exist somewhere and we know this to be true. While churches struggle to survive in Europe and North America, Christianity is exploding in Africa and Asia. Sadly, having to wrestle with when and how to close a church is a reality more and more have had to face in the United States.

No one wants to see a church die. People want to belong to thriving congregations. They want to know there will be a church for their children and grandchildren to attend. The key to saving a church from dying is recognizing the signs of decline before it is too late. Too often, members of a congregation will wait until the church has reached a tipping point before they act. In our day and age, we cannot wait that long. Swift action is required if a declining church is to be saved.

Here are five signs to look for and address so your church doesn’t reach a tipping point.

No Youth – If your congregation doesn’t have any youth, then it doesn’t have a future. Part of God’s plan is for us to instill faith in other generations (2 Tim. 2:2). We are to teach our children to love the Lord (Deut. 6:5-7). Not every child will grow up to be a faithful follower of God, but if an entire church loses its youth, then something has gone wrong. It could be the youth were neglected. It could be the church did not present a healthy Christ-honoring environment for children to be raised. If children grow up in a church that spends more time fighting and bickering than loving and serving, then we shouldn’t be surprised when they walk away. It could be they were never converted to Christ. Sometimes churches will focus all their energy on petty issues and fail to preach Christ crucified. A healthy congregation will welcome children and their parents. They will love them and do everything they can to instill a love for God in them.

No Leaders – The church needs someone to lead them whether it be a group of elders who love the church or a minister who is dedicated to seeing it grow. Without leaders, churches falter and eventually die. If a church has no leaders, it has no direction. A lack of leadership presents an opportunity for toxic individuals to step in and do damage. The void that is left from not having leaders is often filled by an individual or individuals who have no business leading a church. If a church cannot find healthy leaders to guide her and shepherd her, then it should consider other options. Look for another congregation nearby to join. Don’t get caught up in material things or nostalgia. The church is not a building. Buildings are nice, but our mission is not to maintain a building. You will best serve the church under a healthy eldership and if that means leaving a building, then so be it. Churches need to be preparing now for the future. They need to be identifying potential leaders and training them so that one day the church will not be left without good leaders.

No Workers – A church without workers cannot carry out the mission of the church. We are called to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This means we are called to go into our neighborhoods and community and share the good news. We are called to serve people in need and to be a light to the people around us. A church without workers cannot do these things and is therefore a dying church. There are various reasons why people within a church might refuse to work. Maybe they think they have paid their dues and it is time for someone else to step up. Although retirement is something ingrained in our culture, it is not an idea we find in Scripture. We do not retire from the work of the Lord. We work until he calls us home. It could be that members do not feel called to the work of the church or they are letting other allegiances distract them from the mission of God. Whatever it is, a church without workers will not survive.

No Givers – In Romans 12:8, Paul lists giving among other gifts. The money that a church collects is to be used for the work of the church. The church does not take up a collection to save it or spend it on exuberant items. The church uses these funds to help the poor and spread the gospel. Without generous givers, it makes it more difficult to do the work of the church. It is not impossible, but it will limit what a church can do. God envisioned giving as being a part of the church, so much so that it is listed as a spiritual gift in Romans 12. This does not mean that every church needs wealthy donors. It does mean that every member should be willing to make sacrifices to see the mission of God accomplished. A church that is unwilling to give is a church in danger of dying.

No Growth – The church’s mission is to share the gospel with others. A church that is committed to the mission of God will hopefully welcome new Christians into the fold on a regular basis. Churches who take the mission of God seriously will be attentive to visitors. They will talk to their friends and neighbors about God. They will invite people to worship. Not every church will experience an equal amount of growth, but a church that is not committed to the mission of God will not experience any growth and a church that is not growing is either just maintaining or dying.

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