Pastors experience deep frustration and confusion when their churches stop growing. But churches are certainly not alone when it comes to decline. Many organizations get stuck and decline into maintenance mode. So what causes this decline? Are there definitive reasons as to why churches stop growing? Here are five reasons for churches declining.
1. Lack of Hospitality
This can be anything from a dirty and cluttered facility to not having a follow up plan for new people. Take a fresh look at your parking, lobby, children’s area, bathrooms and more. Train your welcome team to use a simple Visitor Connection Card to get visitor’s contact details and follow up. When you get a visitor’s details you are able to follow up and connect them to your church. Otherwise you have a little influence on their decision to return for a second visit. Use a visitor’s connection card to help them start the journey of joining your church.
We fiercely guard our traditions and remain trapped in a time warp that is increasingly marked by irrelevance. Relevance in outward non-essentials (fashion, music, style, furniture, colors) must be coupled with traditional biblical values if we are to remain relevant and continue to see our churches grow. Here’s a suggestion: Audit your building. How old are the styles, colors and furniture in your facilities? What do visitors see when they come to your building? Dated and worn out furniture sends a message of neglect to visitors. Is there any artwork to brighten up the lobby?
3. Stuck in the Comfort Zone
Take a risk or two. Change ‘how you do church’ or challenge your people with a teaching that is biblical but makes them uncomfortable. Spend some money on adverting. (Just make sure you are ready for new people). Try some new technology like streaming video. Raise up some new, younger leaders. What areas can you think of that God may be prompting you to take a step of faith in?
4. Your Church Doesn’t Really Care
I know this sounds harsh but it’s possible that you have no vision for growth and you don’t really care about visitors. Your members pick up on that and reflect the same attitude. You’re in maintenance mode and fatalistic about any attempts to engage with your community. If that’s the case then it’s time to have a change of heart and prioritize your local community and the visitors that may come into your church.
5. Pastoral Leadership
Yes you read that right. Pastoral leadership can prevent a church from growing. I understand the struggle those with the pastoral and teaching gifts have in focusing on evangelism, but if a pastor does not evangelism model this to their members, they will see their church decline. Being small is not an excuse to refuse to change and maximize your situation.
If you as a leader are weak in evangelism, (or any area for that matter), find another pastor or leader who is gifted in an area in which you lack confidence and get them to coach you into a stronger place. There is plenty of help out there.
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