Back in the day (I’m referring to Seminary days), much was made of “church growth.” We were taught that every church could grow if they just followed a certain formula. I wish it were that simple but frankly, it just wasn’t true! Church growth is both complicated and challenging.
I believe it is harder than ever to reach people for Christ and get them into a local church. Here are some changes that make it more difficult to “grow” a local church.
- Our culture no longer looks to the church for answers. I know this isn’t a newsflash, but we live in a post-Christian culture. Many people are not anti-church, they don’t even think about church. One research group, when classifying the church tradition of the Pacific Northwest, titled it “The None Group.” The sad thing is that, even in the most desperate times, people are more likely to seek out the local pub rather than the local church for answers. We can no longer expect the world to come to us, we must get involved in their lives.
- There’s a general distrust of organized religion. This is particularly true of the younger generation. Size and buildings do not impress them, relationships and sincerity do. That’s why we need to look at other ways to be the church. For example, the house church movement is strong in other countries and is gaining traction in the States.
- Christians are attending less frequently. Years ago, we would never think of missing Sunday Worship. Now, even the most committed believers are not attending as much. All kinds of activities compete with church (sports being number one). Some church attenders believe that “regular attendance” is being at church whenever nothing else is going on.
- People no longer attend for show. People are less likely to come to church because they are “expected to.” I read that congregations could expect to lose anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent of their attendance depending where they are located.
- The Church’s unwillingness to change. The local church often feels like the only stable place in a culture in turmoil. Sadly, we’ve mistaken old methods and traditions, rather than the gospel, for our security. The message never changes but the method must! We need fresh eyes and new approaches to point people to Jesus.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Two things. First, what would you add to this list? What have you experienced in your own church? Also, in the local conferences, I’ve been sharing the “Life Cycle” of the church. If you click here you can see an outline of my “talk” and the graph. Where would you place your church? What can we do to see more people put their faith in Christ and be part of His church?