“Why Congregations are Dying Off”Categories: Christian Living, Encouragement, Joshuah Ellis, Theology
It is a sad reality that the Lord’s Church is facing these days. So many congregations who were, at one time, strong and thriving are essentially dying out. One day, the last song will be sung in these buildings and the doors will close forever. It has been common practice among Christians to blame the disintegration of these churches on the world. We complain about society’s increased wickedness and the demoralization of the human race and say, “that’s the reason we’re not growing!”
I’m not even going to get into everything that’s wrong with that statement, but I am going to suggest that our efforts would be better spent looking inward at the struggling congregation than outward on whatever circumstances may be present. So, here is some insight from the Bible as to why your congregation is dying.
1. Laziness. Yeah, you heard me. Laziness. Too often it falls upon the shoulders of a few people to make sure that everything gets done. The preaching, song leading, teaching, building upkeep, evangelism, EVERYTHING? Why is this? Because the rest of the membership identifies themselves with an “I’m not” statement. “I’m not a song leader.” “I’m not a public speaker.” “I’m not good at talking to people.” Maybe not, BUT YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN! And, Christians should be working (Romans 12:11). Everyone has jobs, families, and life stuff to deal with, but sometimes Christians need to step up, not because they possess a particular gift, but because the work needs to be done.
2. Ignorance. Unfortunately, there are many congregations suffering because they just don’t know their Bible well enough. When you are ignorant about God’s Word, your faith will always suffer (Romans 10:17). As a result, the congregation suffers as a whole (1 Corinthians 10:26). Numerical growth, even if it does happen, will not yield godly results in the absence of spiritual growth. Reading your Bible on Sunday and Wednesday is just not enough. You have to know the word of God in order to ensure the strength of the body of which you are a member.
3. Animosity. It’s sad but true. When congregations are so overcome by their own drama that they can’t even be kind to one another, failure is inevitable. But why? After all, sometimes people just don’t get along right? Sure. However, Christians’ love for one another is how our discipleship is identified (John 13:35). So, when Christians are unkind to one another, their discipleship is compromised. How can we expect to convert sinners in the world and ask them to come and be a part of our misery?! It’s ridiculous. Granted, conflicts are natural, but if they are not dealt with in a godly way, that congregation is doomed.
4. Fear. This baffles me, honestly. Here we are: Christians; the children of the Living God, heirs of Salvation, and we are too often hiding in dark corners because we are too scared to make a stand for what is right. Why? Because, we don’t want people to laugh at us. We don’t want to be made fun of. We would rather drown in the sin, which surrounds us than rise up and take a stand. Sure, we live in a big scary world, but we serve the God who spoke it into existence and He gave us not a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
5. Complaining. Boy, does this happen a lot! For some reason we just forget how blessed we are and just start complaining. Everyone has bad days, but when this becomes a default setting it is devastating to a congregation. “We’re too small.” “We don’t have elders.” This guy can’t sing.” “That guy can’t preach.” “That church isn’t sound.” “The world is sinful.” “Nobody cares.” When we think in problems and not solutions, nothing gets done. Paul told us that how we speak matters, especially pertaining to this (Ephesians 4:29). A congregation has little hope when griping takes the place of gratitude and action.
All this being said, there is still the adversary who is out there trying to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). The scary thing is that sometimes it’s the Christians who are making his job VERY easy. While these may have not contributed to every single dying church, it is safe to say that many congregations would not be facing the difficulties they are if they would simply work on these 5 areas. As the Lord’s church, we should be growing and thriving, not vanishing into obscurity and each of us has role to play.