Just finishing up essential Church? by Thom and Sam Rainer. I highly recommend you take the time to read this book.
Why are our young people leaving the Church and how can we regain their
attention? Can we, as Christ followers, help the younger generation
rediscover an essential quality to the Church? Those pressing questions
were the catalyst behind the research revealed in this book. According
to the authors, more than two-thirds of young adults drop out of church
between the ages of 18 and 22. The church is only retaining one-third
of our young adults. Most simply leave, lose contact and relegate the
church to ineffective and non-essential.
Why does this happen? Rainer offers seven primary reasons the church is
losing the battle for the hearts and souls of our youth. He calls them
the “Seven Deadly Sins”. I have added three of my own to his seven.
Each of these sins, to varying degrees, can be seen in stagnant and
1. Doctrinal Drift
In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down
doctrinal truths believing that they are creating a more inviting
environment for seekers. I dislike the term “Seeker Sensitive” the
scripture isn’t very sensitive in many ways. Rather, we should think in
terms of “seeker intelligibility”. The Word of God may not be very
sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make o
mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of
2. Evangelism Atrophy
Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force
but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and
they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their
checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most
churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in
all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.
3. Failure To Be Relevant
I know, many in the church hate this word. But don’t forget, the Gospel
was not written in a cultural vacuum. The words we read today were
written thousands of years ago. They still apply today, but we must
learn to understand them in their cultural context and then find ways
to help 21st century people understand.
Church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects
with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of
cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.
4. Inwardly Focused
The new2, unspoken mantra of the modern American church is; “It’s all
about me.” While no one will readily admit it, all one has to do is
look at the ministries and programs. What can be quickly discovered is
that most churches build ministries to satisfy the already fed. These
programs are good to keep the flock happy. Not necessarily a bad thing,
but too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.
5. Personal Conflict
Not sure I need to explain this too much. Church people have found a
way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power
struggles rule the day.
6. A Priority Of Comfort
Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When
any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among
the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.
7. Biblical Illiteracy
The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long
time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says.
Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly
quoted as scripture.
It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their
saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy
day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we,
like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources
in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die
rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by
with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.
9. Failure to Follow
Too many cooks in the kitchen. Too often pastors are treated like
hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced
to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job. Those who are in positions of authority are unwilling to let go of the reigns and follow the leader called to serve them.
You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive.
Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the
wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care
to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church
and forgotten the main thing.
Gary McIntosh says the first two commonalities among all turnarounds are 1) someone in authority defines reality, and 2) a sense of urgency is created, painting the potential of the church vs. its current, painful reality.
Rich Frazer says a declining church should ask itself questions like these: "What part of our purpose and vision is not working anymore that either needs to be thrown out or revised? What could be transformed and realigned?" …
In 1 Cor. 9, Paul gives advice to church leaders on how to merge into the community. What are you willing to give up in your cultural heritage in order to reach people? (Aubrey Malphurs in the Society for Church Consulting's Level 3 training …