Thom Rainer offers seven primary reasons the church is losing the battle for the hearts and souls of our youth. He calls them the “Seven Deadly Sins”. I have added three of my own to his seven. Each of these sins, to varying degrees, can be seen in stagnant and dying churches.
1. Doctrinal Drift
In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down doctrinal truths believing that they are creating a more inviting environment for seekers. I dislike the term “Seeker Sensitive” the scripture isn’t very sensitive in many ways. Rather, we should think in terms of “seeker intelligibility”. The Word of God may not be very sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make o mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of the mush.
2. Evangelism Atrophy
Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.
3. Failure To Be Relevant
I know, many in the church hate this word. But don’t forget, the Gospel was not written in a cultural vacuum. The words we read today were written thousands of years ago. They still apply today, but we must learn to understand them in their cultural context and then find ways to help 21st century people understand.
Church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.
4. Inwardly Focused
The new2, unspoken mantra of the modern American church is; “It’s all about me.” While no one will readily admit it, all one has to do is look at the ministries and programs. What can be quickly discovered is that most churches build ministries to satisfy the already fed. These programs are good to keep the flock happy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.
5. Personal Conflict
Not sure I need to explain this too much. Church people have found a way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power struggles rule the day.
6. A Priority Of Comfort
Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.
7. Biblical Illiteracy
The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says. Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly quoted as scripture.
It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we, like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.
9. Failure to Follow
Too many cooks in the kitchen. Too often pastors are treated like hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job. Those who are in positions of authority are unwilling to let go of the reigns and follow the leader called to serve them. As many of my reader know and see this daily and are even facing this issue now. It’s sad to see pastors leaving churches or as I should say be pushed out of churches. I think the big thing that gets me is when you leave a church under good standing without being let go or being fired. and the Church trys to beat you down with everything they can. Sadly I faced this in one of the last churches I pastored in. Where I left to follow ad new path and call from God and was treated like trash. I think it’s even harder to face these kinds of things when you loved so much for that body if Christ and fellowship of people. I could go on and on but I will move on.
You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive. Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church and forgotten the main thing. It’s not about the carpet, pews vs. chairs and donated flowers and keeping the pulpit. You may laugh however these things become a big deal in dieing churches. I can’t name names however one of the last church was I did ministry in came face to face with a issue of rooming out of room for small groups and even sunday school. However they had a room full of donated OLD Silk flowers that they like to place in the church hallway. It would have made a great small group meeting room or sunday school class room however they couldn’t come to heart to move any of the flowers. I once asked why and I was told “well they have been there for years and it would upset Mrs… if we moved them.”
In His Grip,