Were you aware that 200 churches shut their doors each week in America. I find that hard to believe, but that’s what the stats say. Very sad. How do we keep from being next? Thom Rainer put out a list of things to consider. I’ve edited them us. But don’t rush through this list. Let it percolate. Here are some key changes churches should consider. Allow me to give you a fair warning. None of them are easy. Indeed, they are only possible in God’s power. Here are eight of them:
1. We must stop bemoaning the death of cultural Christianity. Such whining does us no good. Easy growth is simply not a reality any more. People no longer come to a church because they believe they must do so to be culturally accepted. The next time someone says, “They know where we are; they can come here if they want to,” rebuke them. Great Commission Christianity is about going; it’s not “y’all come.”
2. We must cease seeing the church as a place of comfort and stability amid rapid change. Certainly, God’s truth is unchanging. So, we do find comfort and stability in that reality. But look at Peninsula and realize we do need to change methods, approaches, and human-made traditions. Indeed, we must learn to be uncomfortable in the world if we are to make a difference. “We’ve never done it that way before,” is a death declaration.
3. We must abandon the entitlement mentality. Our church is not a country club where you pay dues to get your perks and privileges. It is a gospel outpost where we put ourselves last. Don’t look to get your way with the music, temperature, and length of sermons. Here is a simple guideline: Be willing to die for the sake of the gospel. That’s the opposite of the entitlement mentality.
4. We must start doing. Most of us like the idea of evangelism more than we like doing evangelism. Try a simple prayer and ask God to give you gospel opportunities. You may be surprised how He will use you.
5. We must stop using biblical words in unbiblical ways. “Discipleship” does not mean caretaking. “Fellowship” does not mean entertainment.
6. We must stop focusing on minors. Satan must delight if our church would spend six months wrangling over a change in the Constitution. That’s six months of gospel negligence.
7. We must stop shooting our own. This tragedy is related to the entitlement mentality. If we don’t get our way, we will go after the pastor, the staff member, or the church member who has a different perspective than our own. We will even go after their families. Don’t let bullies and perpetual critics control the church. Don’t shoot our own. It’s not friendly fire.
8. We must become houses of prayer. Stated simply, we are doing too much in our own power. We are really busy, but are we doing the business of God?
Thom’s message to churches is quite simple: change or die. I don’t want death (and don’t see it for us on the horizon) so change is not an option. But, maybe this is more for me than you.