A healthy church grows in breadth and depth. It should expand numerically and it should deepen spiritually. But, it’s no secret that many churches are declining. Yours may be one of them. Many times churches focus only on one type of decline and neglect the other. This is often where the gradual nose dive begins. Some types of decline can be directly connected to a shift in our culture or economy. But, sometimes this is only a handy excuse.
Many churches wait too long to address spiritual or numerical decline. The obvious signs are ignored or neglected. And, even if they choose to address them, it usually too little to late. So what can you do? You certainly can’t do much about the culture and economy. But, your church can often prevent the church from going into a nose dive by being proactive. Here’s six things I’ve learned over the years that can help keep your church healthy and stop decline before it happens.
- Get Back to Basics. Preach the Word with enthusiasm. Do worship well. Nothing can help a declining church more than the powerful preaching of the Scriptures. Train church members to do evangelism. Develop ways to minister in your community. Keep a healthy balance. Reach your community with the gospel and commit to solid discipleship within the church itself.
- Encourage Your Leaders. Pulling a church out of a nose-dive is not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment and hard work. It requires mental and emotional toughness. No church ever reverses a decline when led by a half-hearted pastor. But, a pastor who desires and prays for God to move mightily can see a congregation change.
- Watch For Trends. It’s important to watch for trends in your church and make changes before they become entrenched habits and traditions. Keep accurate records of how many you are reaching with the gospel, attendance in the main service, Sunday School, small groups and other ministries. Evaluate regularly. Be proactive.
- Research Your Demographics. As part of my church consulting practice I always do a demographic of the area surrounding the church. Communities change over time. Chances are if your church is over 10 years old the people living around your church has changed greatly. Develop ways to reach them, evangelize them and make them disciples of Jesus.
- Prepare for Growth. We’re called to make disciples. I am convinced that creating mature disciples means we must have a strategy (Matt. 28:18-20). The fact is very few churches have one. Don’t assume new believers will simply grow by showing up in your worship services.
- Pray Proactively. Be proactive in your prayer meetings. Focus on asking God to bless the church’s overall ministry, not just individual needs. Pray that the transforming power of the gospel would be evident in the lives of the members of the church and in the community.
I’ve seen God revitalize churches and help them to refocus on their gospel mission, restoring unity and strengthen their leaders. Perhaps yours is next.