10 symptoms of a sick church to help you assess the health of your local church

There are areas that doctors check when we consult them. They check our blood pressure and temperature. If there are any alerts, they order us blood tests. They look for symptoms that could indicate real problems.

After having worked with churches for 30 years, I have looked for symptoms in churches that might indicate deeper issues. The symptoms are not necessarily the problems themselves. They are alerts on potential problems. There are many possible symptoms of a sick church, I have found 10, common to many churches.

1. Decrease in the number of people in meetings. It's amazing, but the majority of leaders don't pay attention to how many people attend meetings. I recommend that leaders compare the attendance of one month of the year to meetings of the same month of the previous year. There are fewer people in the meetings.

2. Decreased frequency of members' attendance at church meetings. This is also what explains the above symptom. Members are no longer consecrated as they once were. The decrease in their love for the local church is reflected in the decrease in the frequency of their participation in church programs. People are less and less regular at meetings.

3. Lack of joy and exaltation in times of praise. Of course this symptom is subjective. It is nonetheless important. Most people can sense when the praise is vibrant, strong, boiling, or dead.

4. Few of the fruits of evangelization. As a general rule, a healthy church will gain an average of 1 new person per year for every 20 members. A 200-member church will gain 10 new members per year.

5. Low community impact. In my consultations, I try to find clear indicators that the church is making a difference where it is. I ask leaders and church members to give me clear examples of this.

6. More meetings than ministry time. A sick church is going to get together more to talk about what should be done rather than actually doing it.

7. Aggressive tone meetings. Christians may not agree. Sick churches have meetings in which disagreements clearly reflect bitterness and anger.

8. Very few new people in the meetings. A healthy church attracts new people, a sick church does not attract them.

9. The quarrels over praise. And yes, it still exists in a lot of churches. These quarrels are indicators that church members are very self-centered.

10 Unrealistic expectations of pastoral care. Sick churches see their pastors and leaders as employees who are supposed to do all the work. Healthy churches see leaders as collaborators in doing the work of ministry together.

None of these symptoms are positive. Yet churches go through periods in which these symptoms manifest themselves. The key is to recognize them quickly and respond to them.

Here is my health analysis, albeit subjective, according to the number of symptoms:

  • 1 to 2 symptoms. This is normal for most churches. This is not an indicator of poor spiritual health, but it should be taken seriously and dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • 3 to 4 symptoms. The local church is sick and needs immediate attention.
  • 5 to 6 symptoms. The local church is very sick. If important changes are not made quickly the church is in danger of becoming terminally ill.
  • 7 to 10 symptoms. The local church is at risk of dying within the next 5-10 years. The possibility for a church to rise from this is very small. The intervention must be rapid, intense and far-reaching. Unfortunately, the changes required go beyond what leaders and church members are willing to put up with.

Take an honest look at your own church through these different symptoms. What do you see ? What should you do if you notice more than one of these symptoms in your local church?

Dr Tom Rainer, consultant to local churches and president of LifeWay Christian Resources

source: thomrainer.com

© Info Chrétienne - Short partial reproduction authorized followed by a link "Read more" to this page.


Info Chrétienne being an online press service recognized by the Ministry of Culture, your donation is tax deductible up to 66%.