Autopsy of a Deceased Church in the USA

Autopsy of a Deceased Church in the USA

Autopsy of a Deceased Church in the USA 12 Ways to keep yours alive By: Thom S. Rainer President and CEO of LifeWay Christian

Resources Presented by: Lost Sheep Ministries (Prepared by John and Will Overton) Types of Churches in the USA Healthy 10% Symptoms of Sickness 40%

Very Sick 40% Dying 10% Symptoms of a Healthy church (10%) Members: Love and support one another as a Spiritual Family Exalt their First Love - Jesus Make Disciples of Christ of all new members Support a Biblical Vision for their church

Use their resources (personnel, facilities, finances) on their community Symptoms of Sick Church (40%) Probably Over 150,000 churches fit this category

If they have grown, the rate of growth was slower than their community growth Decline in Worship Services over the past five years

Ministries and Programs tend to shift more and more for members rather than for those on the outside While some new members may be added each year, there is no sense of true discipleship making taking place. In fact, most of these churches do not have any clear plan for making disciples. Finally, though by no means exhaustively, the church has a lot of program and ministry

clutter. There is much business and activity, but a great deal of it has no meaningful purpose! Four ways to help a church with symptoms of sickness: 1. Pray that God will open the eyes of the leadership and members for opportunities to reach into the community where the church is located. 2. Take an honest audit of how church members spend their time being involved. In

most of these churches, the members are involved in ministries for themselves, often to the exclusion of ministries beyond the church . 3. Take an audit of how the church spends its money. Are new budgets decreasing yet focusing on the needs of its members rather than for reaching the community?

4. Make specific plans to minister and to evangelize your community Symptoms of a Very Sick Church (40%) Significant numerical decline in Worship service attendance over the past ten years. Prolonged time of apathy. Times of intense conflict. The Church is not known in the

Community! (Ask a store clerk) New members are rare. The exodus clearly exceeds the inflow. Revolving door of pastors. Frustrations and conflict limit the years of pastoral tenure. The good old days are typically twenty or more years in the past.

Very sick churches do not have to manifest all of these symptoms; but they typically have at least three of them! Once a church moves to this stage, reversal of the deterioration is incredibly difficult. Had the members recognized the problems earlier, help is more likely to be beneficial.

Sadly its rare to see a church that is very sick reverse its course. Over time, the churches move to the terminal stage and eventually die! Is There Any Hope for a church showing symptoms of being Very Sick?

YES! Reversal is Possible but God usually waits for a willing leader who will find willing people. Four ways to help a Very Sick church! 5. The church must admit

and confess its dire need. 6. The church must pray for wisdom and strength to do whatever is necessary. 7. The church must be willing to change radically. 8. That change must lead to action and outward focus. Can the reversal take place? It is highly unlikely but is not hopeless

Jesus said, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible, (Matt. 19:26) Symptoms of a Dying church A dying church can no longer afford to maintain her property, staff, and facilities She has drifted into a mode of

survival rather than revival! Attendance has decreased to a few older members that tenaciously hold to their traditions. She is totally irrelevant to her community The Death of a church! No one wants his or her church to die. No one wants

to let go of the church he/she loves and through which so much has been given over the years But churches die! Never the Universal Church But local congregations die! How Might a church die well? Death with Dignity

Following periods of denial and grieving, four ways are suggested to make sure that your churchs death can actually make a difference for good for the Kingdom. 9. Sell the property and give the funds to another church, perhaps a new church that has begun or will soon begin.

10. Give the property to another church. 11. If in a transitional neighborhood, turn over the leadership and property to those who actually reside in the neighborhood. 12. Merge with another church, but let the other church have the ownership and leadership of the new merged church. All of these options are painful, because they

are all sacrificial By doing so, you are following the example of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice with His death! Join other men and women, concerned with the state of the church, meet regularly to pray for Revival

Really pray that Revival will Jesus said, I will build My Church. start with YOU! He commissioned us to be His Holy Spirit filled witnesses

and to make Disciples. Failure to Obey will result in the Death of your church!!

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