Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 11 Things I Learned

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Earth Wind and Fire, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    This topic is from Thom Rainer & I thought it interesting & thought provoking, particularly the points made on community. Without further commentary, I give you Thom. Note full article attached.

    I was their church consultant in 2003. The church’s peak attendance was 750 in 1975. By the time I got there the attendance had fallen to an average of 83. The large sanctuary seemed to swallow the relatively small crowd on Sunday morning.

    The reality was that most of the members did not want me there. They were not about to pay a consultant to tell them what was wrong with their church. Only when a benevolent member offered to foot my entire bill did the congregation grudgingly agree to retain me.

    I worked with the church for three weeks. The problems were obvious; the solutions were difficult.

    On my last day, the benefactor walked me to my rental car. “What do you think, Thom?” he asked. He could see the uncertainty in my expression, so he clarified. “How long can our church survive?” I paused for a moment, and then offered the bad news. “I believe the church will close its doors in five years.”

    I was wrong. The church closed just a few weeks ago. Like many dying churches, it held on to life tenaciously. This church lasted ten years after my terminal diagnosis.

    My friend from the church called to tell me the news. I took no pleasure in discovering that not only was my diagnosis correct, I had mostly gotten right all the signs of the impending death of the church. Together my friend and I reviewed the past ten years. I think we were able to piece together a fairly accurate autopsy. Here are eleven things I learned.


    http://thomrainer.com/2013/04/24/autopsy-of-a-deceased-church-11-things-i-learned/
     
  2. plain_n_simple

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    This will continue across denominations and local bodies that do not produce good fruit.
    It will be so profound in the next few years, many will mistake it as the great falling away. It is simply the vine dresser cutting away dead branches.
     
  3. Thousand Hills

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    Thanks for sharing EWF, :thumbs: I've read a lot of thought provoking articles on TR's site.

    This link with some additional thoughts was in one of the comments.

    http://www.philippianjailer.com/2012/02/death-of-local-church.html

    The question is will we stick our head in the sand, or take the steps to reasonably discuss the tough issues that surround these situations . God is a God of 2nd chances and I believe if "dying" congregations will take responsibility and humbly get back to what its all about, then he will bless, and receive the glory alone.
     
  4. Earth Wind and Fire

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    P&S....I am not prepared to assign blame.....but I'm sure you will agree there are some problems that need to be identified & corrected. Then hopefully we can pro-actively stop the demise from happening.
     
  5. plain_n_simple

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    The article and 11 reasons are very well thought out. The thing I got from Thoms experience in a single statement is that the church lost it's love.Why? Focusing on sin and not Him.
     
  6. Revmitchell

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    The op just proves my point in another thread about dying churches.
     
  7. exscentric

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    Seems number 9 covers many churches we've been in. "The church had no clarity as to why it existed. There was no vision, no mission, and no purpose."

    A purpose statement and people/pastor that are committed to it.

    Most of that statement should relate to reaching the lost, training them and serving Christ.
     
  8. Bro. James

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    Removing the candlestick--Jesus warns of this in the Revelation--to the Seven Churches of Asia. He says to repent--or else.

    There are 3 kinds of churches: with candlesticks, with candlesticks having been removed, and those which never had a candlestick. Most seem to fall into the second and third category.

    The first cut: church is not entertainment of the flesh.

    Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

    Bro. James
     
  9. plain_n_simple

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    :thumbsup:The first cut: church is not entertainment of the flesh.:thumbsup:
     
  10. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Do churches routinely draft & adhere to MISSION STATEMENTS? I have never seen one that has!
     
  11. Revmitchell

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    All the time. In fact most do.
     
  12. Earth Wind and Fire

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    That happened in the story of Jonah & Nineveh (4:10) "Turned from their evil ways."

    In my religious society, we don't even play music, we sing hymns Ah Capella. truthfully, I am repulsed by todays musical selections. Is there any reason to critique a churches music selections? Obviously from my own point of view, there definitely is.
     
  13. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Then they never get presented to the person walking in to view the church. Nor is a Constitution, nor an annual business meeting report outlying capital outlay & expenditures. Asking for the last one is almost an affront to most churches way of doing things. Then the problem there would be no transparency.
     
  14. Revmitchell

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    I have no idea where you get your info on what happens in the church but none of this is true.
     
  15. Earth Wind and Fire

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    I get it from visiting with them....face to face.

    So are you saying this is something you typically offer people when they come in?
     
    #15 Earth Wind and Fire, Apr 2, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2014
  16. ktn4eg

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    Amen, Revmitchell!

    EWF--I don't know what your experience(s) have been in the church(es) with which you're familiar so I can't comment about them.

    However, I will say that the half dozen or so churches with which I'm familiar over my almost 50 years as a born-again Christian, I've never experienced this type of local church that you have described.

    I guess I've been especially blessed by our Lord by His leading me to the kind of churches that have been quite friendly and transparent in all of their relational, financial, and spiritual dealings.

    It's my earnest prayer that (since you seem to be rather unimpressed with your current local church situation) our Lord will soon lead you to a local church assembly that will be a better one for you, and one where you can better use whatever spiritual gifts He has given you.

    Until He does, may He richly bless you in whatever particular ways that you believe He chosen for you to bring honor and glory to Jesus.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    It is erroneous to stereotype churches based on your limited experience.

    People do not want them offered. They do not even know yet if they will return again. What does happen is that they are made available when asked for them. However, the church finances are not something anyone wants to know about. It serves no purpose.
     
  18. exscentric

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    I have not seen many churches with a meaningful purpose/mission statement, usually so general you could hit it by doing little if anything.

    My experience in getting information is varied, but few have info available without action, some have it in the foyer in racks.

    We visited a missionary Baptist not long ago, we sat down in SS and were barely seated when the pastor slapped a doctrinal statement on the table and said "This is what we believe." Don't know if he was hoping to scare us off or was just being helpful. Took it as the last but ??
     
  19. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Lets see.....Ive visited with;

    1. OPC
    1. PCA
    1.UMC
    1. Reformed Church
    4. Baptist
    1. Lutheran
    3. Non Denom

    Do you consider that limited?

    I have extensive business experience. If I choose to contribute to said church, than I want to understand how the money & time are being allocated.
     
  20. Revmitchell

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    Yes




    Which has nothing to do with anything I have said. Just because that is what you want does not mean all churches should stand by ready to accommodate you. The average person coming into churches do not care about the finances. At the point they think they are interested in becoming members they will often ask for the statement of faith. Almost never do they ask for it coming in the door.
     

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