Monday, June 6, 2016

What causes churches to be unhealthy?

We've heard for years that 80 percent of the churches in America are plateaued or dying. I think it's safe to assume that most of these churches have some degree of poor health. Although there some valid reasons for a church to not grow, most plateaued and dying churches are not healthy. That is why I wrote my book, The Healthy Small Church: Diagnosis and Treatment for the Big Issues. It has outsold all of my other books because it has obviously spoken to church leaders.

More than one pastor has written to say this book helped turn their churches around. I recently spoke in a church in Michigan for a pastor who told me he led the church through a study of the book four years earlier when he first went there. It was exciting to hear how the church had changed during his ministry.

Turning around an unhealthy church begins by first diagnosing the problems that are causing the poor health. While there may be many causes, I have found that six problems are often at the root of a church's unhealthy state.

  • Poor self-esteem. This is frequently a major problem for smaller churches that were once much larger.
  • Conflict. While conflict cannot be avoided in churches, it does not have to be unhealthy. However, it does need to be resolved or it will keep resurfacing.
  • Lack of vision and purpose. A church that is merely drifting along hoping something good will someday happen will be a very unhealthy church.
  • Focusing inward. Too many smaller churches are more concerned about their own survival than they are about making a difference in their community.
  • Poor leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. If the pastoral and/or lay leadership is poor, the church will struggle.
  • Cultural indifference. Too many churches want to live in the 1950s and cannot understand that the world has changed.
The book addresses each of these problems and offers some solutions. However, it does more than that. It offers solid ways to lead your church to become healthier and begin new phases of ministry.  This is why this book has been so popular among pastors and why my seminar on this topic has been my most requested.

You can order the book online or find it in most Christian bookstores. I encourage you to read it, and if you believe it will be helpful to your church, ask your lay leaders to read and study it with you. One congregation purchased 90 copies to give to every family in their church. May their tribe increase! Several judicatory leaders have purchased copies for each of the pastors in their districts. Thank you!

I have led several conferences this year where I've spoken on this subject and have more scheduled this summer and fall. If you believe this could benefit the churches in your area, give me a call and let's discuss doing one for your church or the churches in your district.

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