Very Sick Churches

What are some of the indicators that a church is very sick?

Significant numerical decline over the past ten to twenty years….Prolonged times of apathy….The church is not known in the community. Ask a clerk at a store in the community. You may be surprised how few even know the church exists….New members are rare. The exodus clearly exceeds the inflow…..Revolving door of pastors. Frustration and conflict limit the years of pastoral tenure….The “good old days” are typically twenty or more years in the past.


I like to be a bearer of good news. I like to be able to be positive about situations, especially when those situations involve churches. At the same time, I refuse to deny reality. Such denial can only lead to a worsened condition.

For the past several months, I have been researching and writing my upcoming book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church. The book actually began with a post on this blog. The responses to that post were overwhelming, so much so that I decided to expand it to a short book that will be released by B&H Publishing in May 2014.

Churches typically do not move from good health to dying overnight. It is usually a more subtle deterioration. I have identified five simple stages:

  • Health
  • Symptoms of sickness
  • Very sick
  • Dying
  • Deceased

I estimate that about 40%, or around 150,000 churches in America, are in the very sick stage. They are one stage away from being terminal.

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