The 10 Last Words Of A Dying Church

If you don’t like change, you‘re going to like irrelevance even less.”  Those are the words of General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

There are few things as sad as watching a once great church grow old, become irrelevant, and slowly die.  What is worse is that they either don’t know they’re dying or they simply don’t care as long as those remaining are happy.  Sadly, I have witnessed this more times than I wish to count.  In addition, I have attended this type of church before.

Here is what I have noticed about many of these churches – at a pivotal point, a decision was made to continue doing ministry the way they always have rather than alter their approach to reach a changing community or the next generation.  After months of committee meetings and off-line conversations, the church finally utters the The 10 Last Words Of Dying Churches – “We’ve never done it that way before.  We’re not changing.”

Those 10 powerful words subsequently have a ripple effect that lasts generations.  As a result, the following are additional comments those attending these churches are bound to say and/or hear shortly thereafter:

  1. “Isn’t it great that our music is never too loud?”
  2. “Isn’t it nice seeing people in coats and ties and not disrespecting God by wearing blue jeans?”
  3. “We’re more spiritual and doctrinally pure than that fast-growing, watered-down gospel, baptizing-hundreds-every-year church down the street.”
  4. “Can you believe that church is stealing all our people?”
  5. “I hear we’re having to cut the budget because giving is not what it used to be.”
  6. “Isn’t it great having all this room on the pew to spread out.”
  7. “I love singing all four verses.”
  8. “Don’t worry about our attendance.  Let me tell you how large our membership is.”
  9. “Are you coming to Monday night visitation?”
  10. “Remember the good ‘ole days.”
  11. “Visitors, please stand.”
  12. “I hear it’s just a show over there.”
  13. “We just formed a Committee on Committees.”
  14. “We don’t talk about money.  We preach the Bible.”
  15. “Isn’t it great getting out of the parking lot quickly?”
  16. “The poor will always be with us.”
  17. “I’m really tired about having to hear about lost people all the time.”
  18. “Pastor, I think we need to start praying for revival.”

Do these phrases hit close to home for you?  Are there any more comments you want to add that you’ve heard?

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

5 Responses to “The 10 Last Words Of A Dying Church”

  1. I believe the church which has laid its foundation on Jesus Christ cannot die for it is an eternity church so let us way on which foundation are we laying our faith folks. Amen

    • Pastor Anthony,

      Thanks for your comments. There is a difference between “a” church and “the” church. You are correct. The church will never die and is always advancing. Sadly though, indiividual local bodies of believers die frequently as depicted in the picture above. The question is “Why”? What’s your thoughts on that question.

      Thanks again,

  2. I get the queasy feeling that some people have the idea that “church growth” should by synonymous with “change for change’s sake.” It doesn’t matter whether something is spiritual or scriptural: if it’s “old-fashioned,” for Heaven’s sake sweep it under the rug and bring in a “consultant” with an MBA!

    A church should not be a mausoleum, but neither should it be a showroom for the latest fads and gimmicks. The megachurch and “emergent church” movements are driving Christianity back into the cultural catacombs. God deliver us from “leadership experts!”

  3. The death of a church is just the death of a business, not God’s people. If anything the people who started the church have grown old and are dieing off.

    Those people made that church, enjoyed it, making it what it was. Just because it may be traditional don’t make it bad, old or out-dated. It’s what they liked and they don’t have to change. The last few will close the doors and either go somewhere else or off the the old folk home.

    Businesses die but God’s people live forever!

  4. I’m a student right now and i don’t think that points 1-3 are signs that the church is dying. My generation is very much based on feel good, hype and there are churches that bend over backwards to conform to our culture.

    There are many people my age that are able to see past this and do know that something is up. We eventually get tired of it and start looking for where the truth is at (which is usually at these churches where there isn’t a concert taking place every week), those who i’ve seen on fire for the Lord do somewhat recognize the problem, and an appeal to absolute truth (with very good reasoning and the Holy Spirit) usually wins.

    From 5 on down, yeah those are fighting words!

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