Are We Ready to Experience God?

Recently I was talking with several pastors of dying churches and they were discussing how they got to where they were. We all remembered reading the statements printed below…
• The church refused to look like the community. The community began a transition toward a lower socioeconomic class thirty years ago, but the church members had no desire to reach the new residents. The congregation thus became an island of middle-class members in a sea of lower-class residents.
• The church had no community-focused ministries. This part of the autopsy may seem to be stating the obvious, but I wanted to be certain. My friend affirmed my suspicions. There was no attempt to reach the community.
• Members became more focused on memorials. Do not hear my statement as a criticism of memorials. Indeed, I recently funded a memorial in memory of my late grandson. The memorials at the church were chairs, tables, rooms, and other places where a neat plaque could be placed. The point is that the memorials became an obsession at the church. More and more emphasis was placed on the past.
• The percentage of the budget for members’ needs kept increasing. At the church’s death, the percentage was over 98 percent.
• There were no evangelistic emphases. When a church loses its passion to reach the lost, the congregation begins to die.
• The members had more and more arguments about what they wanted. As the church continued to decline toward death, the inward focus of the members turned caustic. Arguments were more frequent; business meetings became more acrimonious.
• With few exceptions, pastoral tenure grew shorter and shorter. The church had seven pastors in its final ten years. The last three pastors were bi-vocational. All of the seven pastors left discouraged.
• The church rarely prayed together. In its last eight years, the only time of corporate prayer was a three-minute period in the Sunday worship service. Prayers were always limited to members, their friends and families, and their physical needs.
• The church had no clarity as to why it existed. There was no vision, no mission, and no purpose.
• The members idolized another era. All of the active members were over the age of 67 the last six years of the church. And they all remembered fondly, to the point of idolatry, the era of the 1970s. They saw their future to be returning to the past.
• The facilities continued to deteriorate. It wasn’t really a financial issue. Instead, the members failed to see the continuous deterioration of the church building. Simply stated, they no longer had “outsider eyes.”
(Excepts from Autopsy of the Deceased Church.)
My prayer… God, open my eyes that I might see my church as You see it. Let me see where change needs to take place, even if it is painful to me. Use me, I pray, to be an instrument of that change whatever the cost.
 
Rick Dorman, Lead Pastor
Royal Haven Baptist Church

Leave a Reply