(Note from Timothy: Originally published April 21, 2010)
I found this over at a blog entitled: Church Encouragement Services. They have a list of 113 signs of a dying church. The following is just a portion of their list (bold added by authors, italicized added by me):
- No soul winning. (Efforts are made, but minimal at best. True soul winning takes consistent pursuit and prayer. Not just a blitzkrieg effect).
- Power struggle among the leaders. (Especially between the elders and the pastor.)
- Preachers don’t stay long.
- Music is a slow and lifeless routine. (No real desire for excellence in this area).
- There’s no testimony of what Christ is doing in lives. (Can you say “Ichabod?”).
- The facilities are in poor condition. (They smell bad as well. No desire to keep things looking nice. After all, “we JUST painted the sanctuary… 17 years ago!”)
- Visitors feel that the church is cold and dead.
- Lack of unity. (Unity consists of working together in order to get rid of that thar blastin’ preacher!)
- Preachers are f i r e d time after time. (Or forced to leave by other means).
- Not meeting the n e e d s of the church or the community.
- No equipping of Christians for ministry.
- The elders are not teaching.
- Sermons lack power. No Biblical application to everyday life.
- Giving is minimal, few tithers.
- No missions or constant struggle against any giving outside the local congregation.
- Lack of c o – o p e r a t I o n.
- No one sent out to become preachers.
- No volunteers. (Better yet, no real understanding that the church is a servant-led entity, not a volunteer organization. Think of the chief servant, Jesus, and you get the idea).
- The Biblical purposes of the church are lost. (“We exist because we don’t like others… and we can tolerate one another.” Or, “we exist because we are the only ones in this town doing it right! Never mind the fact that we are a stench in the nostrils of the Lord and everyone else.”)
- Attendance low or stagnate.
- No vision. (They do have vision, but unfortunately it is only vision for the past and is verbalized in the following way: “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”)
Here are a few that I can think of from a pastor’s perspective:
- Not willing to support or follow the pastor’s lead.
- Not willing to be challenged in real areas of spiritual importance, like the need to repent for past or present sins of the church.
- Not willing to be confronted as a body from the pulpit.
- Not willing to lay aside the church’s reputation for the sake of Christ’s reputation.
- Not willing to accept that fact that “total depravity” actually applies to those inside the congregation as well as outside the congregation.
- Shepherding actually means protecting our institutionalized and acceptable sins and prejudices.
- Loving one another means that we really don’t hate one another… but not much more than that.
- Outreach means that we send or invite people once a year, but never really get involved in the lives of others.
- Thinking that because we’ve already been faithful in one area in the past, that we no longer have to be faithful while it is Today.
- Confusing social activism for true and meaningful outreach with the Gospel.
- Thinking that since we have a daily quiet time, we are automatically holy and faithful in all areas of the Christian life.
- The congregation has an “us vs. them” mentality with both the pastor and every one else.
- Thinking it is OK to stop tithing because you don’t like the pastor.
- Holding an attitude towards the pastor’s wife that she is a “necessary evil” and not really a part of the body of Christ.
- Holding unrealistic expectations for the pastor’s children by expecting them not to actually be “children who must be raised up in the admonition of the Lord.” They should already have arrived.
- Laying the responsibility of every lost member at the feet of the pastor, none of the other elders or members had anything to do with that loss.
- Making sure to hold onto any confidential information about the pastor and his weaknesses until the appropriate time.
- Bringing all kinds of accusations against the pastor without any regard to 1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.
Well, that is just a few that I came up with. The scary aspect of this list is that it didn’t really take that much time for me to do so. I’m sure I could add to it if I wanted to give it more thought. Allow me to close with the words of our Lord:
Revelation 2:4-5 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
OK, enough of that. Or as Forest, Forest Gump used to say, “that’s all I have to say about that.” At least until I have more to say about it.