Thinking Out Loud

March 1, 2012

Warning Signs: Your Church May Be Dying

Blog Crime in Progress:  I want everybody to read this, so it’s here in full, but give credit traffic where credit traffic is due and read this at Trey Morgan’s blog.

You may have already read these, but according to Barna, 3500-4000 churches close their doors every year… AND recently the Christian Chronicle just published a report saying that in the past nine years that church attendance has dropped by more than 100,000.

Just a few days ago I visited with a man that was very concerned about the church where he was attending. His exact words were, “We’re dying and the sad things is … some don’t care, and the others don’t know what to do about it!” He and I got to talking about some of the signs they were seeing that pointed to their church dying out. We made quite a list, and of course a few were tongue-in-cheek. I thought I might share a few with you today. Of course I’m no church growth expert, but I’d bet that most are generally true.  So, here are “17 Signs your Church may be Dying.”

  1. If your church does nothing to reach the community where it is located.
  2. If your church believes doing church is something that takes place inside the walls of the building on Sundays and Wednesdays … instead of outside the walls in the community during the week.
  3. If your church’s sermons are issue oriented or not relevant, instead of being relationship centered and Jesus focused.
  4. If your church is afraid of change, making changes and taking risks.
  5. If the only thing your community knows about your church is where it’s located.
  6. If the only thing that seems alive in your worship service is the greenery at the front of the auditorium.
  7. If the song you sing most on Sundays is, “Tis so sweet to Rust in Jesus,” or something close to it.
  8. If your worship is quiet because there are no children.
  9. If the only new members that are ever added to your church are people who have moved into the area … instead of people from your community.
  10. If your church is content with just keeping its heads above the water.
  11. If your church is out of touch with the current generation.
  12. If your church’s leadership’s motto is, “But we’ve never done it that way before.” 
  13. If your church has money in the bank that could be used to reach the lost and serve the poor, but it’s being saved for a rainy day or an emergency.
  14. If your church’s biggest fear is criticism.
  15. If your church’s leadership doesn’t set the tone, and is more concerned with supporting the system than shepherding the people.
  16. If your church promotes outreach as an option and not a necessity.
  17. If your church lives in the past not in the present.

Honestly … It makes me sad that the topic of churches dying is even a topic that is trending…

~Trey Morgan


  1. Wow… great post of examination of the church…. Darrell

    Comment by darrellcreswell — March 1, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  2. I preach on a regular basis at a church that is dying. A friend and I preach every other Sunday, as pulpit supply, and have for years. It is a small Presbyterian church and we’re both ordained Baptist ministers, thus neither one of us can become the church’s pastor. There is another small church, only a few miles away, in slightly better but similar shape. The Presbytery tried to consolidate the two churches years ago, but the few members left at each location refuse to let it happen. It is sad to watch. And to hear about the “old days” when 3 rows were filled with church youth, and every summer they had a hundred in VBS.

    The irony is that in some places people walk an hour or two to get to church, and sit on the ground in sweltering heat to hear the Gospel. In Muslim countries Christians are beaten, imprisoned, or worse and refuse to stop telling others about Christ. American church bears little resemblance to church in so many other places.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — March 1, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  3. our last pastor almost destroyed the fellowship and it did not recover so the fellowship is finishing the job.

    Comment by herschel copeland — July 9, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

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