According to the New Testament, when a church is healthy is grows.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11–16, ESV)
So, when a church doesn’t grow, it may be sick. Consider the church that resides in a metropolis of several hundred thousand. All around it are people dying without Jesus and, as we are told all the time, the average church in America is under 100.
Having consulted in churches for decades, I have noted 4 key attitudes in a church that hasn’t grown in years …
Sick churches exhibit certain attitudes
- The people are Selfish
This is the church that refuses to change anything so that others may be attracted. While I agree that the message and the Bible should NEVER change, the methods can and should when they are no longer effective. (A great place to change is to imitate the actions of Jesus while he was on earth.)
- The people are Ingrown
We are told that after just a few years of knowing Christ, the average American Christ-follower knows less that 7 unsaved friends. This withdrawal and abandonment of the community is the reason for a lack of growth. (Again, consider Jesus who was so often “out and about” the communities of the Galilee.)
- The people are Critical
The redundant refrain from people outside the church is, “Why are Christians so judgmental?” Perhaps we have forgotten Jesus’ striking pronouncement: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. ” (John 3:17, ESV)
- The people are Kill-joys
So many churches believe that “joy” is a synonym for “sin.” Yet the fruit of the Spirit start with “love, JOY,” etc. (Galatians 5). The church that is sick doesn’t like little kids running in the worship facility; complains when the facility is dirty because of use, and laments the “good old days” when children “knew their place” and “didn’t speak until spoken to.” They would rather have the order of the tomb than the raucous noise of the crowd.
There is a better way, and we will discuss it tomorrow.
Those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours! Please comment below.