Here are five signs your church might be dying.
I love our little church. We’re the smallest in our community, but we have the heart of missions; that is, we are seeking to serve as Jesus commanded the church to serve. He says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus says, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). However, Jesus also warns the church that if they don’t do these things, “’as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:45-46).
We can either evangelize or fossilize. In other words, if we’re not “going” (Matthew 28:19-20), we’re not growing. That’s as simple as it gets. Whichever church doesn’t seek the lost is a church that is lost. We are given an imperative command by our Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ, to “go into all the world.” Yet many of us won’t even go next door. Our church has a prison ministry, a nursing home ministry, and a ministry for the poor. This doesn’t guarantee we won’t die, but it does show we are obeying what Christ has commanded us to do.
No Biblical Preaching
If a church is not preaching the Word of God and instead is focusing on how to have a happier life, marriage, job, or home, then they are taking the real power of God out of the church. Why do I say this? Because that’s what the Bible teaches. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16), and “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). God’s Word has God’s power in it! If you lose Bible preaching, you’ve lost all source of God’s power in the church.
When a church has no growth–and I don’t mean in membership or attendance but in the members of the Body of Christ, the church–then that church is dying. Just as in nature, any plant that isn’t growing is dying. The same applies to members of the church. Can you see spiritual growth in church members? Can you see them overcoming sins they had previously battled with? Can you sense a deep, abiding desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord? If not, this church may be dying; in fact, it may already be dead.
I heard a man once say that he didn’t get anything out of church. So I asked him, “What did you expect to get?” He couldn’t answer. He only felt that he came to church to “get” and not to give. However, it’s not what you can get out of church but what you can put into worship services. We’re there to worship God and not to be entertained. The church’s focus is on Jesus Christ and glorifying Him, not on “What can I get out of this service today?” Think about why you’re there. It’s all about Him and not about us.
Churches are a lot like people. They are born, they live, they thrive, and sometimes they die. But the church of Jesus Christ will always prevail and doesn’t depend on whether a church closes its doors or not. It’s not the end of the world if a church closes its doors, but there are things you can do to prevent that. It must include focusing on Jesus Christ and on the Word of God with biblical preaching. There must be missions and evangelism, too, as we must obey Christ’s commands (Matthew 28:19-20). If these elements are missing, then the church could be dying or, in fact, already be dead.