• Arcade
    Results 1 to 5 of 5

    Thread: Is Your Church Dead?

    1. #1
      Administrator

      Join Date
      Jul 2012
      Location
      TX
      Posts
      104
      Blog Entries
      1
      Rep Power
      10

      Is Your Church Dead?

      Is Your Church Dead?

      Rev 3:1* And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

      There are many, many churches in this country that are dead. Growing up there was a phrase that said that someone or something was dead but too dumb to drop over. I am afraid this is the situation for many. They think they are alive because they have a name. That name may be a reputation of past glory. They once had so many members with so much money in the bank and they did such and such, but that was twenty to fifty years ago. Some just have a name on a sign and in the phone book. They have or had a name that seems to indicate life, but they are dead.

      We see seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. They all have their problems, but Sardis had nothing going on for it except a few Christians that were the real deal. The church was dead and like not every cell dies at once when we die they had some things that may had them in denial thinking they were alive, but Jesus says those things were dying as well. He held open an opportunity to repent for He can raise the dead. We do know that there is no church in Sardis. Indeed, none of the places mentioned in the two chapters survived until this present day. All had their candlesticks removed.

      1Sa 4:21* And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.*
      22* And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.*

      The ark of the covenant was where the presence of God manifested in the tabernacle. The ark had been captured by the enemy and the high priest broke his neck and his son were slain. So the priest's grandson was named Ichabod to commemorate the departure of God's glory from Israel. Here it was well known that the glory was gone, but oft times it is like Samson who woke up after Delilah's haircut thinking all was well for he did not know that the Spirit had left him.

      God no longer dwells in a tabernacle or temple despite us calling our churches the house of God. He dwells in His people. The church building is just a place where the Body of Christ meets to worship, fellowship and prepare for ministry. God moves in the assembly and changes lives and gifts for actions not just for rituals or to make people feel good.

      Many church bodies that were once on fire for God somehow lost it. Something happened and God stopped working in their midst. Since man is a religious creature, it can happen and no one notices. They still have three or four services a week. They have three hymns, a special, an offering and a sermon. They still have fellowship dinners and support a few missionaries so all is well. There is money in the bank and the size of the church is comfortable so no one misses the power and presence of God. It is like a battery in them. They had their battery charged at some point and as long as the battery stays charged they will notice nothing until the battery gets close to death. Then they will try to recharge the battery through programs, revival speakers, and even strong preaching designed to initiate action through fear or guilt.

      Unless they repent, they will lose their candlesticks because without the constant recharging of the Holy Spirit, their battery will die no matter what they do. Some will take longer than others, but they will get down to the last member or the last financial problem and gasp their last gasp.

      You can read the book of Acts and see what a living church looks like. I will summarize by showing some signs of a dead church.

      There is no outreach.

      The first church was one that reached out in evangelism. They took the Great Commission seriously and were trying to win souls and edify saints wherever they went. A dying or dead church does not do this. Often because there are too few people and they are all geriatric patients, but not always. Coldness is worse than just being too old and there are many cold Christians.

      There is no reproduction.

      Because of the outreach souls were being saved. The Body of Christ grows just like any family. If you have not seen any spiritual births in your church in years there is something wrong. If your baptistery has been dry and the home of spiders for what seems like forever you are dying. If the only new members are sheep from other folds they do not count as reproduction or real spiritual growth. If all your members and your prospective members are over fifty, you are dying and will be dead in twenty years or less as the members die or transition to the nursing homes or wander out from you as they wandered in.

      There is no zeal.

      Church is just a habit that is performed as a duty. The Holy Spirit could never have control because tradition and the bulletin dictate the order, the form and type of worship allowed and no one dares suggest any changes. Songs are sung as dirges in soft voices so that one zealous person could drown out the whole congregation. The pastor begs and pleads for people to minister or give to no avail. You have to keep calling members so they will come to church. Attendance is sporadic, but much higher on Christmas, Easter, Mothers and Fathers Day. Friendly people and good fellowship can happen in a dead church, but it is really just a wake and they do not know it yet.

      The early church met everyday in many places and we are told to be assembling even more as the day approaches. Yet, we meet less. Some do have doors open twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday night, but the high attendance is Sunday morning. A percentage will come back in the evening and a few die hards will actually show up Wednesday night. More often than not Sunday evening gets canceled. One church listed their Sunday AM attendance at 1150, Sunday night 150 and Wednesday 50. The core was fifty with 15o somewhat committed and 1000 regular visitors. You cannot grow a church or a Christian with such a small amount of teaching and exhortation. They did not have cell groups.

      Sometimes your Sunday morning and membership do not really indicate how many zealous or committed Christians you have. One fellow interviewed me and they were looking for someone with experience in a church of 350. When I asked if that was their attendance, he said not right then. They had 350 before a split and now they were 175. He was thrilled to report their offerings had not decreased. I told him that was impossible to lose half the membership and keep the same budget. I told him he never really had a church of 350. He had a church of 175 with 175 visitors and I had experience with a church of 150. He did not like that and that was the end of me. Truth does not always generate a positive outcome and I suspect this message will not win me many accolades either, but it is truth.
      __________________________________________________
      Luke 22:31,32
      When the herd is aheadin' fer the cliff it t'ain't bad bein' a Maverick!

    2. #2
      Administrator

      Join Date
      Jul 2012
      Location
      TX
      Posts
      104
      Blog Entries
      1
      Rep Power
      10
      There is no change.

      While doctrine does not change, there are many things that can change so as to provide for the nourishment of saints and to lure the fish in your local lake. Some folks like hamburgers and fries, others roast beef and baked potato and still others like a meat loaf and mashed potatoes. It is still all meat and potatoes just offered in different formats. If every sermon must have three points and a poem and you must have three congregational songs you will not be long for the ministry world. Very few people eat the same meal every day.

      Quit using the lures and methods that worked for catching trout if the stock tank now has bass, crappie or catfish in it. Technology can be used to replace the hymnal and maybe you can have five songs or two sometimes. The preacher may dump his suit to not look superior or dictatorial in some people's eyes making them think he is unapproachable. Change can be awesome. Just because you have always done something does not make it profitable in 2018 and what you do in 2018 may not be as profitable in 2022.

      The building is an income vacuum

      I preached in view of call in a church that once held several hundred, but there were only 12 when I was there. They were all grateful that they had the $50K they needed to fix the roof and felt God had blessed them. They had a parsonage with marble stairs and might have looked a bit like Tara. If they still had several hundred people there $5oK might not have seemed like much, but since God cares more about people than money I don't think He was blessing.

      Other buildings I have been in were not as extravagant, but most of the money coming in went to maintain the building and utilities and maintenance was not doing well. There have been places I was afraid to sneeze and others I worried if I would fall through the floor. Some were still somewhat stately in an antique nostalgia sort of way, but were often damp and musty. Often their congregation complemented the building.

      Some had a little money to pay a pastor while some had none. Thus it was the building and the pastor getting all the money. Nothing for missions or charity, except what they might get by passing the plate. One fellow told me he preached a revival and God told him on the last night to give his last ten dollars. When he was leaving the deacon handed him an envelope and when he opened it there was ten dollars in it. That was an object lesson, for sure.

      I was at one church where they voted to have some building done. They posted their offerings on the wall. It was $350 for the general fund the week they voted. Next week it was $175 for general fund and $175 for the building fund. The church was dead.

      There is a pastoral revolving door.

      I have known churches that have had a new pastor every year for five or more years. Most dying churches think they need a lad with a ThD or PhD for a pastor and at one time they may have been able to support one of those, but now they cannot even afford minimum wage. A ThD paid a lot of money for those degrees so unless he is in his 70's, he needs an income that will support him, his family and his school debt.

      If you go through a pastor every year either the church body is hard to live with or they stink at discerning a good man or both. Some do not really want a pastor. They just want someone to marry and bury them and give an uplifting sermon every Sunday morning as well as a tax deduction. A man who is called to pastor will want to pastor, not just be a visiting lecturer or adjunct professor. That will cause friction and frustration until he resigns or they fire him. If that happens every year the church is dead and as I said too dumb to drop over.

      After awhile the word will get out and no one will apply to be the pastor unless he just needs a year gig for more experience or to be occupied until a better situation opens. It takes three to five years for a community to really accept a new pastor and sadly in good times a pastor only gets three years which is a tad longer than the members who last 2.1 years at any church. A youth pastor might last 1.5 years. Thus the church will become a joke after awhile and be known as the church who changes pastors more than some people change their socks. Growth is dead at that point. The plug is pulled and they are just slowing dying unless reality speeds it up and the people move on.

      I am sure that just as you can find many causes of death and symptoms of dying in humans you could name a few things as well. These are some of the obvious ones. What do you do if yours is dying?
      __________________________________________________
      Luke 22:31,32
      When the herd is aheadin' fer the cliff it t'ain't bad bein' a Maverick!

    3. #3
      Administrator

      Join Date
      Jul 2012
      Location
      TX
      Posts
      104
      Blog Entries
      1
      Rep Power
      10
      Face reality.

      If some or all of these things are present it your church do not deceive yourself that it will make a comeback. I once tried to get eight churches in the Dallas area to merge into four. Adding up all the members they could have merged into one and one of the buildings could have taken them all.

      I paired them up by location. One pair had a church of 13 and another of 17. They were three miles apart and of the same denomination. Neither had a pastor or a budget to get one. They would need a bi-vocational man who would serve the church for free or for homemade pies and Sunday dinner. If a man can do that, that is fine, but few can do that.

      I wrote letters to them with my proposal and only one replied that they were not going to merge with anyone. They had just hired a PT young man and they planned on growing. Stark reality was that most of the churches in that area of that denomination were in decline with just a few stagnated and even fewer growing and the growing ones were the ones that were larger and adapted to the fish in their stock tank.

      The arrogant tone of the letter makes me think they burned that young man out and they are now closed. Hopefully, the pastor did not get discouraged and left the ministry or lost his wife. I have seen wives demand the pastor choose between them or the ministry. One lad had one semester left in college and his wife said quit or she was leaving. The stress of full college load, job, studying and trying to be a husband father can break the man, but often it breaks the woman. Fortunately, it happened before he took a church and those same pressures caused the breakdown.

      When it has gotten too far, it is too far and it is not coming back. Just as medical science can do all it can for the body and then says there is nothing else and there is no hope churches can get to that state. It may be a slow agonizing death, but it will end in death.

      I have a friend of a friend that posits that churches are like people. They are born, reach adolescence, teen years, young adulthood, middle-age, old-age and die. Like people, that may be after a hundred years, eighty, sixty, forty, twenty or even as a child. That makes sense. Many churches have come and gone over the centuries.

      Pull the plug

      If you are in leadership, seek out a church of like faith and propose a merger. As I told the ones that were three miles apart, figure out who has the best building and sell the other. Use the funds to remodel the remaining church, support the pastor as a member of the staff for a year or so or for life if appropriate. Give the money to a mission board or missionaries of your choice. One church that closed provided $10K to a Filipino pastor so he could buy land to build a church and he had the growth to do it.

      Some of the membership will balk. They are lost in the 50's or 60's or even 80's and remember the glory years. It will be your job as the leader to convince them that it is the most wise and godliest thing to do whether it is to close it down and the members disperse to the another church or merge with the one you have spoken to about it.

      If you are a member, suggest a merger to the leadership. They may balk as well depending on their training and their personal attitudes. Some do think that once there is a building it must remain open until the last man falls. If that is the attitude and you see there is no way to get them behind it then for your own sake, leave and find a church that is alive and healthy. Not perfect, but alive and healthy. You will be amazed at how your life changes and your walk with God improves when you leave the pre-nursing home meetings or the weekly memorial services of the good old days.

      Don't start a big ruckus, but if you know some that see the same things in the church you can tell them what you are going to do and then leave. They may follow now or later. The key is for you to get free and find life more abundantly. If your church is dead, play taps and move on. Life is too short and God has too much for you to do than live in a cemetery. Only demoniacs live there until Jesus sets them free.

      Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

      Luke 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
      __________________________________________________
      Luke 22:31,32
      When the herd is aheadin' fer the cliff it t'ain't bad bein' a Maverick!

    4. #4
      Administrator

      Join Date
      Jul 2012
      Location
      TX
      Posts
      104
      Blog Entries
      1
      Rep Power
      10
      8 Signs Your Church May Be Closing Soon.


      https://churchleaders.com/outreach-m...om-rainer.html
      __________________________________________________
      Luke 22:31,32
      When the herd is aheadin' fer the cliff it t'ain't bad bein' a Maverick!

    5. #5
      Administrator

      Join Date
      May 2012
      Location
      KIRKVILLE, NY
      Posts
      3,315
      Blog Entries
      1
      Rep Power
      10
      Excellent article MavMin

    Bookmarks

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •