The Bible says that in the last days there will be a great falling away. This is the evidence. I don’t feel that pastors are leaving the flock, I feel that people don’t want to hear the gospel truth. A spirit of compromise and assimilation has taken over. People want to feel good about where they are at in the walk with God. If the preacher is telling them something they don’t want to hear, they go somewhere in which they can. Just my opinion.
Times are changing, people are changing, cultures are changing, societies are changing. If we look at some of the data that exist, this trend of closing churches and decreases in membership is not new, it’s been,happening for well of a decade.
I believe there is one significant cofactor that affect this trend:
1-the church has lost it’s vision.
Before Jesus ascended, he had ONE last conversation with his disciples, those that would continue to carry out his work. We find His words in John 13: “and by this shall all men know you are my disciples that you love one another as I have LOVED you”.
It’s really that simple. However, we are living in a day where scripture is blatantly being misused, used out of context and continues to be used as a whipping post and battering ram.
I realize this is a hard truth!
We are living in a day, we’re individuals have become, frankly, disgusted with all the light shows, the flashy banners, the lists of “do and don’t” and “cans and can’ts”. There’s and ole song that has a line in it: “I know the tricks behind the magic show”.
In addition, the church should be about, simply Jesus, and unfortunately today it’s more about politics.
We know what Jesus said about that.
The Church will always be . . . it has existed for almost 2000 years . . . sometimes good, sometimes bad. Perhaps a pastor is suffering from burn-out. Rather than leave, he/she stays ending in apathy. Change is a challenge but sometimes necessary . . . and, a congregation should not be afraid to ASK for change. Also, there is the issue of “all-inclusive” churches: this is not to open up to a debate, but some denominations are closed to LGBT persons. Everyone is a child of God, whether one likes it or not. Also, some pastors interpret scripture to their own liking as a control mechanism to scare people into staying. But, the intelligent person sees through a controlling pastor and if they don’t challenge a pastor, they leave.
I have been a pastor of small churches all my pastoral life and what I see is that culture is changing and church people do not know how to interpret it. Some say that the changes would cause the church to be led away from the gospel while others just don’t do well with change. So I say that the center of this decline is the churches lack of understand the world and trying to get the world inside the church so that they can hear the gospel. The churches that are growing are able to see what needs the world has and then respond to that need and as the world comes in they present a gospel that is not controlling nor damning. The gospel has always been about love and receiving the lost and loving them. We as Christians should not condone their sin nor embrace it but simple love and embrace the sinner. We love them and desire to help them find the gospel. Let the Holy Spirit convict them thatnis his job. Our job is to bring them in so that they can hear the gospel in a safe place that they don’t feel that people are judging them. The methods to accomplish this endeavor might require us church goers to change our methods of evangelism but it would never require us to change the gospel message.
The church has lost its identify as the vehicle of evangelism God has chosen to save the world. We do not lack programs, we lack power. The church seems to be in competition with the world when it should be the world in competition with the church. Though our goal is not to be offensive in our nature or delivery we have become silently complacent rather than be politically or socially incorrect. Our slogans and themes are all catchy enough but I desire to see a demonstration of Acts power for my congregation. I am afraid that even in the church the flesh has overcome the Spirit. Congregations have become more concerned about “when” we get out of church than “what” we get out of church.
This is near and dear to my heart because we are facing the option of closing. I came to this church a little over a year ago, and now it’s down to my family and about 4 other people. Of course, it was already tiny when I came, but more left.
But here’s the thing: I’m staying. The people who left were those who said they were willing to do anything, but it was only words. When I scheduled a month of prayer (every night in May), none of those who have or are leaving came to pray with us. That says something. So, what we are going to do now is start over, just like a new church plant. On top of that, tradition and format are going to go out the window (except what’s necessary and biblical). We are going to narrow our focus and concentrate on wearing out our shoes and making disciples.
Ultimately, I want to see God get the glory for raising the dead.
People have quit believing the Bible is the unerring Word of God. They think they can pick out and choose what they want to believe. These same people think the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are only suggestions. And yes the LGBQT in tearing the church apart. It has happened to the Lutherans, The Presbyterians, The Episcopalians and now the Methodist. All are welcome in God’s church, but that does not mean we have to accept their lifestyle. As the end approaches our Lord is separating the wheat from the Chaff. In the end It is God that I have to answer to and not man.
Why are Churches closing? Its an Epidemic! What happened?
Indeed in the end times Scripture reveals a falling away; and indeed, the times are changing. Further, there is no question that we in American are no longer living in a Christian era and people have quit believing in the unerring Word of God, but you asked why churches are closing, and to get to that we must dig deeper. It is not about the LGBT sins permeating society, nor is it about the Republican/Democrat debacles of the day or even about the evolutionary and untruthful teachings of the elementary and higher education schools. It goes much further back than all that. Although some may say it goes all the way back to the thought processes which brought people to America for religious reasons and even some would say it goes back to the period of the Puritans or even to the original Methodist (both of which I honor as groups trying to do what is right at the time) I think the reason is deeper and yet simpler than all that.
Why are churches closing all over America (and I am one who has had to close one, putting all the assets in a church planting trust and using the resources to plant 5 new churches)? It is because the pastors of what appears to be the early second half of the last century, failed in a major way as they led their churches, no matter what denomination they were. (It’s only my opinion that it must have happened in a big way about this time.)
What didn’t they do? They failed to “equip the Saints for the work of the ministry.” Paul writes to the Ephesians “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV)
If this one instruction had been fulfilled, we would not have the epidemic of church closings we are seeing. Oh, I of all people I know there are times, due to sin (usually) but sometimes because of population shifts, where it is best, if not necessary for a church to close. However, if the people had been properly taught and equipped to do the ‘work of the ministry’ (and the pastors/employees were not the only ones working) there would be enough equipped people in the next generation(s) to sustain the ‘work of the ministry’ which should be lodged in and focused in the local church and fewer if not most would not be closed and/or abandoned.
I am looking to pastor such a church which is willing to be the ‘church’ and be so equipped.
I retired from a church in which I was the Assoc. Pastor (By-Vocational Pastor). The church did close it’s doors about a year after I left. I don’t believe it closed it’s doors because of me leaving,( just a tired leadership with no replacements.).
Our two oldest sons are members of a CMA church in western Mass. of which my wife and I attend on occasion. My oldest son is an Elder there. They seem to be a growing church providing the physical and spiritual needs of the congregation. They are also actively involved with Campus Crusade at the nearby UMass campus.
I believe that in order for a church to thrive it has to go beyond a meeting on Sunday. There needs to be weekly prayer groups and weekly bible study groups as well as Pot Luck dinners and church socials. In other words, the congregation should be consumed in church activity.
My wife and I are “snow birds” we spend our winters in Florida. On Sundays we attend the Hernando Church of the Nazarene in Hernando Florida. Over 90% of the congregation are seniors and yet they have a thriving youth ministry.Many of the youth’s parents don’t attend church, so volunteers take a mini church bus and pick up the kids for Sunday School & church. On an Easter Sunday, there can be as many as 400 in attendants. They also have an outreach program for those who struggle with drug addition. This is a vibrant church!!!.
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