Three Cs that Kill the Church

While church-planting continues in earnest all across the country – there are thousands of older churches closing their doors every year.  In my observation of struggling churches I am beginning to see a pattern that slows ministry progress – and sometimes brings it to a grinding halt.

I’m talking about the “3 C’s” that kill churches.

C#1 – Comfort

Whenever you take a quick “hands up” survey at churches and ask how many people don’t like change – typically it is a vast majority of the congregation.  While I understand that we say we don’t like change – we actually adapt fairly well – with the exception of church.

Most of Americans have been able to move from a rotary phone to a push-button phone to a cell phone.  We’ve also been able to adjust from big ol’ console TVs to table top TVs to flat screen TVs.  We’ve also dealt pretty well with the change from cooking with gas to cooking with electric – to heating food in the microwave.

But for some reason many people struggle with change in their church.  When you walk into some churches it could easily be 2006, 1996, or even 1976. And the reason change is so difficult for us is because we crave comfort.  But God didn’t call us to comfort – He called us to deny ourselves and die to ourselves for the sake of the Gospel.

C#2 – Committees

The idea is noble.  Serve on a church committee.  And while I’m sure there are some wonderful committees out there – my experience has been that committees tend to plan what *other* people are going to do.  Too often church members have exchanged ministry for meetings.  And that is not what we’re called to do.  Jesus told us to “go” and “make” disciples.  Action over talking.

Meetings for planning and strategy are a necessary part of church work – but I contend the best way to do things is:  fewer meetings with fewer teams – and then get up and get something done!

C#3 – Constitutions

Writing a church constitution is a laborious activity.  The local church needs one.  However, in my experience, far too many constitutions end up inhibiting ministry rather than advancing it.

A constitution needs to be document designed to give working parameters to leaders in the church.  It should not be so complicated that you need an attorney to understand it or that in order to move ministry forward it takes 3-4 committee meetings and multiple church votes.

There are any number of issues that plague the average church today – but comfort, committees and constitutions are the three things I see most often slowing ministry down.

My prayer is that church leaders will begin to understand and make the necessary adjustments to move past these church growth roadblocks.


Formula for the Death of a Church


I have been asked a number of times what the formula is for a church that wants to turn around a decline.  There are any number of things a church can – and should do – to make things new and to spur growth.  But I don’t believe there is one singular formula that will turn every church around.

However, I do believe there is a simple formula that will spur on the death of a church. I call it the “D3 Formula”.

It goes like this:  Denial + Delay = Death

Thousands of churches close their doors for good every year in the United States.  Dozens every single week.  And typically they didn’t end up in critical condition overnight.  For years they denied they had a problem.  Even as attendance lagged and the congregation demographic rose – the church believed “everything was okay”.

Then after years of denial, someone noticed their church was in trouble, and decided something needed to be done.  However, after so many years of denial – delaying action just seemed natural.  Instead of doing something – anything – to try to reverse the slide – the congregation waited to do what needed to be done.  Think about it.  If you know you’re facing pain – don’t you attempt to put that off as long as possible.  The same thing happens in the local church.

My hope and prayer for the local church in America is they break out of denial and stop delaying.  That local congregations across the nation realize their reality and move in an intense, intentional way to turn their church around – and begin to once again have a Kingdom Impact on their local community.

The Mission of the local church is far too important to wait any longer.

Don’t Deny.  Don’t Delay.  Do Something Now.