Below you will find some information that Thom Rainer and his team put together about dying churches. I hope that in my ministry, Vision Baptist Church, we will be able to avoid these and do even more.
What were some of the warning signs my team saw? Though the list is not exhaustive, these five issues were common. Some of the churches had a one or two on the list; some had all five.
1. The church has few outwardly focused ministries. Most of the budget dollars in the church are spent on the desires and comforts of church members. The ministry staff spends most of its time taking care of members, with little time to reach out and minister to the community the church is supposed to serve.
2. The dropout rate is increasing. Members are leaving for other churches in the community, or they are leaving the local church completely. A common exit interview theme we heard was a lack of deep biblical teaching and preaching in the church.
3. The church is experiencing conflict over issues of budgets and building. When the focus of church members becomes how the facilities and money can meet their preferences, church health is clearly on the wane.
4. Corporate prayer is minimized. If the church makes prayer a low priority, it makes God a low priority.
5. The pastor has become a chaplain. The church members view the pastor as their personal chaplain, expecting him to be on call for their needs and preferences. When he doesn’t make a visit at the expected time, or when he doesn’t show up for the Bible class fellowship, he receives criticism. In not a few cases, the pastor has lost his job at that church because he was not omnipresent for the church members.