Urgent church: Nine changes we must make or die

June 25, 2019

It broke my heart. Another church closed. This church had unbelievable potential. Indeed, it had its own “glory days,” but only for a season. But, 10 years ago, few would have predicted this church’s closure. Today, it is but another statistic in the ecclesiastical graveyard.

I know. We don’t compromise doctrine. I know. We must never say we will change God’s Word. But many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

I call these churches “the urgent church.” Time is of the essence. If changes do not happen soon, very soon, these churches will die. The pace of congregational death is accelerating.

Around 200 churches will close this week, maybe more. The pace will accelerate unless our congregations make some dramatic changes. The need is urgent.

What, then, are some of the key changes churches must make? Allow me to give you a fair warning. None of them are easy. Indeed, they are only possible in God’s power. Here are nine of them:

  1. We must stop bemoaning the death of cultural Christianity. Such whining does us no good. Easy growth is simply not a reality for many churches. People no longer come to a church because they believe they must do so to be culturally accepted. The next time a church member says, “They know where we are; they can come here if they want to,” rebuke him. Great Commission Christianity is about going; it’s not “y’all come.”
  2. We must cease seeing the church as a place of comfort and stability in the midst of rapid change. Certainly, God’s truth is unchanging. So we do find comfort and stability in that reality. But don’t look to your church not to change methods, approaches and human-made traditions. Indeed, we must learn to be uncomfortable in the world if we are to make a difference. “We’ve never done it that way before,” is a death declaration.
  3. We must abandon the entitlement mentality. Your church is not a country club where you pay dues to get your perks and privileges. It is a gospel outpost where you are to put yourself last. Don’t seek to get your way with the music, temperature and length of sermons. Here is a simple guideline: Be willing to die for the sake of the gospel. That’s the opposite of the entitlement mentality.
  4. We must start doing. Most of us like the idea of evangelism more than we like doing evangelism. Try a simple prayer and ask God to give you gospel opportunities. You may be surprised how He will use you.
  5. We must stop using biblical words in unbiblical ways. “Discipleship” does not mean caretaking. “Fellowship” does not mean entertainment.
  6. We must stop focusing on minors. Satan must delight when a church spends six months wrangling over a bylaw change. That’s six months of gospel negligence.
  7. We must stop shooting our own. This tragedy is related to the entitlement mentality. If we don’t get our way, we will go after the pastor, the staff member or the church member who has a different perspective from our own. We will even go after their families. Don’t let bullies and perpetual critics control the church. Don’t shoot our own. It’s not friendly fire.
  8. We must stop wasting time in unproductive meetings, committees, and business sessions. Wouldn’t it be nice if every church member could ask only one question or make one comment in a meeting for every time he or she has shared his or her faith the past week?
  9. We must become houses of prayer. Stated simply, we are doing too much in our own power. We are really busy, but we are not doing the business of God.

Around 200 churches will close this week, maybe more. The pace will accelerate unless our congregations make some dramatic changes. The need is urgent.

Hear me well, church leaders and church members. For many of your churches the choice is simple: change or die.

Time is running out. Please, for the sake of the gospel, forsake yourself and make the changes in God’s power.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared here. Thom Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.


by Thom Rainer
/  Founder & CEO  /  Church Answers

Reflect and ask ‘What are you thankful for?’

As a part of my personal devotion times with the Lord, I love to read and meditate on passages from the Book of Psalms. Many of the Scriptures in Psalms are expressions of praise and thanksgiving, and I often find myself praying these verses back to God as a way to express my own...

NC Baptists highlight church planting, ‘Who’s Your One?’

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina Baptists commissioned more than 100 church planters and were called to prioritize personal evangelism during their 189th annual meeting held Nov. 11-12 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center. The meeting drew 1,387 messengers and included two...

Annual Meeting day 2 highlights

More than 1,300 messengers from Baptist churches across North Carolina gathered at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 11-12 for the 189th annual Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Annual Meeting. The theme of...

NC Baptists approve budget, pass bylaw amendments

N.C. Baptists approved a $30.5 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2020 that increases the percentage allocation to the missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for the 14th consecutive year. Despite an overall budget reduction of $500,000,...

Hollifield: ‘Get engaged in God’s great work’

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. exhorted North Carolina Baptists to “get engaged in God’s great work” during his address to messengers on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Greensboro. Evoking...

Annual Meeting day 1 highlights

More than 1,000 messengers from Baptist churches across North Carolina gathered at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday, Nov. 11 for the opening session of the 189th annual Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Annual Meeting. The...

Convention announces new focus on church revitalization

Members of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) executive committee praised a plan announced by convention leaders to help pastors and churches across the state in the areas of church health and revitalization. During the executive committee’s regularly...

5 ways to be a missionary this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving often makes us think of family, a turkey dinner with pumpkin pie, and pilgrims — it’s a day centered around giving thanks. Why not incorporate international students into the holiday greetings this year? Here are several ways your collegiate ministry and church can be...

2 Comments

  1. John Hancock

    Be the church to the world, theat is, be the kind of Christian that Jesus taught us to be.

    Quit arguing over minor details, such as a minister who is female.

    Reply
  2. Darryl

    We must understand the Biblical role of apologetics in defending the historic Christian in faith (2 Cor. 10:5/ 1 Peter 3:15).

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!