This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive) that we have put our hope in the living God who is the Savior of all, and especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 3:9-10
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Eight Reasons Many Churches Are Living in the 1980s
Nine out of ten churches in America are
either declining, or they are growing so slowly they are not keeping up
with the growth rate of the community in which they are located.
It’s a long sentence. Read it again
carefully. Soak it in. Across America 90 percent of the churches are
losing ground in their respective communities. Most of them are
declining. Many of them will close.
As I have worked with thousands of
churches over the past three decades, I have noticed something
fascinating, yet disturbing, about many of these churches. They are
still acting like it’s the 1980s. The world has passed them by. They
are deemed irrelevant by members of their communities. They are frozen
in a time warp.
Why has this tragedy fallen on so many
churches? Though I don’t want to oversimplify the issue, I see at least
eight reasons for this crisis.
are trying to shelter themselves from culture. In
the 1980s, congregations were typically part of the mainstream culture.
They were accepted in most places, and embraced in some. That is not
the culture of today. Many church members use their churches as a
getaway from the realities they don’t want to face.
were easy answers. The vast majority of
churches in the 1980s were program-driven. If there was a perceived
need, they would order a resource that best solved that need. Many
churches today still think they can get quick fixes from programs.
largely catered to the needs of church members in the 1980s. We
thus created a culture of membership that is me-driven. Many church
members do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to reach our
communities and culture today. They are demanding their own needs and
preferences to be the priority of their churches.
was more incremental. If your church is
stuck in the 1980s, it does not have to worry about the rapid pace of
change today. Members can pretend like their church does not need to
change despite the massive upheavals of change in the world.
growth was easier. In the 1980s, a number
of people would visit our churches without much effort on the members’
part. One church member told me recently, “If lost people want to come
to our church, they know where we are.” Sigh.
provided solutions. Not all churches in
the 1980s belonged to a denomination, but many did. And many members
expected the denominational organizations to guide them and resource
them. Denominations work best today in partnership with churches, but
too many church members want to return to the paradigm of the 1980s.
did evangelism for the members in the 1980s. Evangelism
was the responsibility of the pastor or the denomination or a few
people in a program. Church members paid others to do the work they were
supposed to do. Some church members today are more concerned about
their worship style preference than lost people who need to hear the
churches would rather die than to get out of the comfort of their
1980’s paradigm. I feel certain they will
do just that.
What do you think of these issues of
time-warp churches? Let me hear from you.