By defining a church as a “Declining Church“, we mean one that is declining areas such as total membership, attendance, new members, and finances (offerings) by at least 10 percent in one or more of these areas over five years.
Dr. Thom Rainer, author and church consultant, says “the most common factor in declining churches is an inward focus“.
He goes on to say “After studying and consulting with thousands of churches, I began to see clearly this pattern. Even more, I began to recognize symptoms of an inward focus.” Then he lists the following symptoms:
- There are very few attempts to minister to those in the community.
- Church business meetings become arguments over preferences and desires.
- Numbers of members in the congregation are openly critical of the pastor, other church staff, and lay leaders in the church.
- Any change necessary to become a Great Commission church is met with anger and resistance.
The past becomes the hero.
- Culture is seen as the enemy instead of an opportunity for believers to become salt and light.
- Pastors and other leaders in the church become discouraged and withdraw from effective leadership.
- If the churches are a part of a denomination or similar affiliation, meetings of those denominations mirror the churches in lost focus and divisiveness.
If the above quick assessment indicates that your church is unhealthy, you might consider doing a deeper evaluation using our more extensive tests: Church Health Tests