The Five Choices Of Declining Churches

Leaders of declining churches have five choices.

Leadership recognizes the simple choice is, “change or die.” The church decides to make significant leadership, methodological, organizational, structural, and philosophical changes. Advantages: The church may reverse the decline and become a gospel influence in the community again. For those who are on board, there can be a sense of radical obedience to the gospel.

 

It’s simple and straightforward.

Leaders of declining churches have five choices.

Let me clarify. In theory, the choices are simple. But putting them to practice is not so easy. So when pastors or other church leaders ask me what they can do about their declining church, I ask them to begin at the high level before looking at a lot of details. One of these five choices must be made.

  1. DO NOTHING.

Anecdotally, I can tell you the majority of churches make this decision. Such is the reason that two-thirds of the churches are declining or plateaued.

Advantages: You avoid conflict. You may get to keep your job.

Disadvantages: If you do nothing and are declining, you will still decline. You are disobedient to the Great Commission. And leading a declining church is no fun.

  1. INCREMENTAL CHANGE.

I wrote about this kind of change many years ago in a book called Eating the Elephant.  You attempt to discern a pace that can take as many members as possible with you.

Advantages: Change is taking place, hopefully for the better. You minimize losses of membership and criticisms, but not completely. You probably keep your job.

Disadvantages: Today most churches don’t have the luxury of changing incrementally. The world is so different than just a few years ago. Incremental change may not stop the bleeding.  Continue reading…