I’ve read an article about what causes churches to have to close their doors. I found it very interesting. It feels a bit macabre, especially as it is a book review of Thom Rainer’s book “Anatomy of a Deceased Church.” It is based on 14 ‘autopsies’ of dead churches, which does sound very depressing! However, autopsies are essentially there for the living so that we can thrive, and anyway, so many churches are in decline at the moment, we need to know what not to do! The key points that struck me were these:
- Slow erosion is the worst type of decline for churches, because the members have no sense of urgency to change.
- The most pervasive and common thread of our autopsies was that the deceased churches lived for a long time with the past as hero.
- More than any one item, these dying churches focused on their own needs instead of others.
- Members of the dying churches really didn’t want growth unless that growth met their preferences and allowed them to remain comfortable.
- When the church is engaged in meaningful prayer, it becomes both the cause and the result of greater church health.
- None of the members asked what they should be doing; they were too busy doing what they’ve always done.
- The dying churches, at some point in their history, forgot their purpose.
- Yes, reversal is possible, but God usually waits for a willing leader who will find willing people.
So. Let us look to the future, not to the past. Let us not do things just because they have always been done and let us have a vision for the future and most of all, let us pray!