While sitting in the beautiful, and elegant sanctuary, with the outstanding worship, and powerful preaching , I cannot help but feel as if our family is on a sinking ship. The same people show up each Sunday and Wednesday evening. The visitors never return. The Holy Spirit’s power seems real – but why do I have this deep, engulfing feeling, that something isn’t right? In the midst of my soliloquy, it becomes very clear to me. This church, despite its beauty and powerful preaching, along with many churches in North America, are actually in a decline – operating in survival mode.
My husband and I foolishly allowed ourselves to believe it was “them” out there, those not coming to church. They were missing out. We thought we were in an awesome church. But we were wrong – so wrong. According to “Advanced Strategic Planning, A 21st – Century Model for Church and Ministry Leaders”, by Aubrey Malphurs, the typical church does not understand the implications of the changing world. Seminaries and colleges are only preparing pastors for Sunday morning sermons, instead of preparing them to become effective leaders. Churches, as well as relationships, businesses, and so forth, all have a life cycle.
When a church is planted it’s called the birth. It then goes throw growth and eventually plateau. The problem with many churches is that they stay in the plateau phase. This is a dangerous place to be because if churches are not proactive they will eventually go into decline and death. It seems insane to make changes to the church when it’s at a plateau, but staying in a complacent state is also insane.
Let’s consider the rotary telephone.
This was a great invention, but how many people do you see buying rotary telephones today? What if when rotary phones were in the plateau phase the makers decided there was no need to change since they were selling so well? Obviously, the makers and designers of the telephone adjusted to the ever-changing world. Church leaders have the same responsibility. If we want to continue to win people to Jesus, we have to get “into the world”, if you will.
What our family experienced at the church I described above was a church in decline, with leaders in reactive mode. This is not a good place to be because it takes focus off the true purpose. The question is, is there hope for the church?
To Be Continued...