COMMON ISSUES AMONG DECLINING CHURCHES
Having been in the circle of church management and leadership for over a decade and my consulting services with churches, I have discovered that there are some common issues among declining churches. Apparently, whether we accept them or not they are there and if not attended to intentionally and constructively most churches will continue to struggle in many areas. They are as follows:
1. Staying long to deal with church decline: - Most churches their front door is narrow while the back door is wider than expected. The church has no concise and structured means of checking the rate at which the members are leaving the church. Even when reported the leadership will not accept it or it is ignored. Often leadership asserts that if they are to stay God will make them to do so. Inadvertently, this trend will entrench itself and addressing it becomes too late and a big issue to the church.
2. Lack of statistics for planning: - Statistics and data are very important for any organization to thrive. Most struggling churches have no data and up-to-date information to work on. They cannot tell the number of visitors that come to church in a month and the number they were able to follow-up and retained. Statistics avails us the opportunity to ask constructive questions in view of uncertainties. Like why did church population increased or decreased in the last five years, why many church members come to church service on the first Sunday of the month more than the last Sunday. In the absence of this they think otherwise.
3. Use of prayer as a reactive approach: - Prayer is very important but most often than not it is used in the struggling and declining churches as reactive approach. There are obvious issues that require church leadership proactive response other than praying when it has happened. One church I know was faced with decline in numbers and the leadership chose the part of prayer every weekend without attending to the concerns of the people. Let the church design a strategic and proactive system approach rather than conforming through prayer in a reactive manner.
4. Lack of knowledge of the community: - It is unfortunate to discover that most church leaders do not know the community where they are located. Knowing the name of the community is immaterial because community demographics are important for the church to give back to the people. This is why some churches demand so much from the members because they lack accurate knowledge of their demography, economic, and social composition. Healthy churches must be attuned with their ministry field.
5. Addressing church issues only from the pulpit: - One common factor among declining churches is they intend to address critical issues only from the pulpit. The leaders throw blames to the congregation from the pulpit thereby exonerating themselves. Church system and structure are not fixed through revival programs preached out of the pulpit for the congregation. When the church leadership understands that people may not need revival if the system is not working but it is the church system and structure that require revival for the people to flow.
6. Misplacement of priorities: - Priorities are born out of intentional vision, mission and goal of the church. My observation for many years is most struggling and declining churches misplace priorities as a result of no vision or goal. Most leaders operate on cut and paste approach. They keep on remodeling their church to look like a particular church they saw somewhere. Every church is unique and has its unique business philosophy, therefore to copy and paste will destroy ones identity. Define your own brand and work through it.
The Church needs God’s grace to accomplish its mandate only when principles and laws are adhered to purposefully with open heart.
AuthorDr. Nguzo. C Uche