From the Pastor's DeskMike Winfree, Pastor
"Autopsy of a Deceased Church"by Pastor Mike Winfree on May 3, 2013
Dear Church Family,
Recently I read an article by Thom Rainer, CEO of Lifeway Resources. It was entitled "Autopsy of a Deceased Church". He tells of a church that had peaked at 750 in attendance in 1975. He was asked to come to the church as a consultant because it had declined to 83 in attendance. He worked with the church for three weeks.
Mr. Rainer says in his article: "The man who invited me to come asked me, 'What do you think?'" I replied, "This church will be dead in five years." I was wrong. It took 10 years and now the doors are closed.
There is a prediction that 100,000 churches are on this same course. What can we learn from this church? What was the cause of death? Tom Rainer gives eleven things as the cause.
- The church refused to look like the community. They had no desire to reach those in the community.
- The church had no community-focused ministries...Nothing to let people know the church was there.
- Members became more focused on memorials. Memorials are not bad, but they were an obsession for this church.
- The % of the budget for members' needs kept increasing. At it's death, it was at 98%. No money for missions, outreach or staff.
- There were no evangelistic emphases. They had lost their passion for the lost. That is why we exist.
- The members had more and more arguments about what they wanted. Their focus turned inward on themselves.
- With few exceptions, pastoral tenure grew shorter and shorter. They had 7 pastors in their last 10 years.
- The church rarely prayed together. When there was prayer, it was all about them.
- The church had no clarity as to why they existed. There was no vision, no mission, no purpose.
- The members idolized another era. All they could do was look back to waht they used to have.
- The facilities continued to deteriorate. They failed to look at their facilities with outsider eyes.
As sad as this report is, I thank God that we are not headed there. We must be aware of what causes a church to die and avoid those things like we would a plague! Let's pray for churches that are headed down this road. Let's be aware of all God wants us to do, and do it.
Serving the Savior,