Four Cents: Why do churches get stuck?

Sam Rainer

March 3, 2007

In an attempt to open up the conversation a bit more, I am going to try something different with this blog. Once a month or so, I will pose a question relating to the health of the church. I will put in my two cents, you put in your two. The goal is to have much interaction and get people thinking about how our churches can attain better health.

Plateaued growth is a common description said of many churches. Indeed, entire denominations are in a state of decline. For example, the denomination that my church is a part of has only 22 out of 43,000 churches that meet the qualifications of a “standout” church. My church is not one of the 22, which only motivates me to dive deeper in prayer and petition God for a revival in our community.

What are the criteria of a standout church? These churches have been able to baptize at least 26 people per year for 10 consecutive years; have overall worship attendance growth during the same 10 years; and have a membership to baptism ratio of no more than 20 to 1. Yes, those are high criteria, but only 22 churches met that level of excellence.

While each church has a set of unique characteristics that may explain why they are not winning more people to Christ, I see some overall trends that may add to the quagmire of mud in which our churches bog.

First and foremost is a lack of commitment to doctrinal Truth. Without a firm stance on that which is absolute, any growth that occurs within a church is on shaky ground. Second is a lack of unity with individual members of the body and lack of unity amongst churches at the denominational level. How can the body move forward to better health if each part is pushing in a different direction? Third is a dearth of prayer. Prayer is the foundation to any ministry within the church. Churches must be seeking God’s guidance in all they do. Fourth is a lack of leadership in the area of personal evangelism. The pastor must lead his church in evangelism. If he doesn’t do it, then few others will carry that torch. Fifth is a lack of relevancy in the community. If your church is not outwardly focused, then the country-club mentality sets in quite easily.

There’s my two cents. What are your two?

7 comments on “Four Cents: Why do churches get stuck?”

  1. forthekingdom says:

    I would agree with all your points and add one to the list. It would seem that many churches have such low expectations that their members do very little and have little motivation. Many churches have truly “dumbed down” what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. Until New Testament expectations are made of our members, we cannot hope for much fruit. Thanks for opening the discussion for our input into this vital issue!

  2. kdb1411 says:

    I would love to hear how other churches are involving their members in prayer ministries. That has always been a struggle in the churches where I have served.

  3. Sam Rainer says:

    kdb1411, I was recently at a pastor’s conference in Evansville, IN. The keynote speaker told a story of a church with whom he had worked. This church was small and had struggled for many years, until the pastor and a dedicated lay person worked together on a prayer ministry.

    In short, they had equipped a prayer room 24/7 which included simple rolodex files at stations. You spent a few minutes at each station praying for people in the roladex files for one hour. This church began to flouirish, with the driving force being the prayer ministry. In fact, they had manned the prayer room for 2 consecutive years and saw God answer an average of 3 prayer requests a day! The idea was simple; the church was obedient and dedicated to the ministry. God blessed them as a result.

  4. Brian says:

    On the fifth point…outreach has to be a top priority, agreed. However, I do not think that outreach should be singled out of the Great Commission. I’ve done a small research project of my own recently by asking random church members what the Great Commission says. Everyone so far has said “preach the Gospel.” And so we should. However, the Great Commission says, “make disciples of every nation,” not “preach the Gospel.” Evangelism is half of the Great Commission. An outward focus is crucial, but unless the church consists of faithful disciples (followers) herself, how can she be “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” — II Tim 2.2 precedes II Tim 4.5 —

  5. Well here’s my two cents. As Christians we often fail to exercise our Christianity outside of the Church walls. With millions of Christians in the world, when was the last time you seen a Christian in the mall, restuarant, etc…? We are almost invisible to the world, which is why most people don’t fully understand Christianity. Which is why we are unfairly judged. This is why I continue to preach about a crusade which I have joined.This crusade encourages Christians to wear a t-shirt which enables us to show ourselves to the world. This also gives us the ability to spiritually unit, visible identify with one another and acknowledge God to the world. If one household of drug dealers and criminals can destroy a neighborhood just think what millions of Christians can do by spreading love and kindness. If the day ever comes when we as Christians can stand in unity, if just two days a month I believe God will be please and began to heal the land. Visit and tell me what you think.

  6. Sam Rainer says:

    Brian, I wholeheartedly agree. Evangelism is inseperable from discipleship. And discipleship shouldn’t be done apart from evangelism. As people are won to Christ, they must be assimilated into a local church through solid discipleship.

  7. forthekingdom says:

    I would say that the Great Commission is all about evangelism properly understood. True evangelism will result in disciples. Often pseudo-evangelism is practiced in our churches.

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