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5 Signs of a Dying Church

signs of a dying church

The last year has been hard on churches and church health – how can we tell the difference between Covid declines or fatal flaws? I think it’s true to say there are symptoms your church may be on the path to death. Misdiagnosing the actual state of the union and what the real issues is a difficult business, but there are some sure signs of a dying church.

First, though, we should acknowledge that there is a difference between your church

Being small and dying.

Plateauing and dying.

Declining and dying.

Merging and dying.

Being large and healthy.

Being large and reaching the lost.

Being large and having a lengthy future.

The truth is, for a church, only dying is dying. But we can look for certain signs of a dying church.

5 Signs of a Dying Church

1. Leadership is gridlocked.

If leadership is hopelessly fractured and there is no real plan to fix the issue it could be a sign your church is starting to die.

If no one has agreed to step down and leadership is unable or unwilling to self-correct by removing someone from the ranks, or agreeing to disagree–it could be a dangerous direction for the life of your church.

2. No real growth for the last five years.

What I mean by “real” is a year where attendance went up at least 10 percent.

Unless you are in a rural context, this means you are no longer reaching people with the Gospel, or you’re losing more people than you’re reaching — and you’ve done it for five years. This is a good time to recognize that there may be a problem and signs of a dying church, and work and pray toward real solutions.

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Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California--a fast-growing plant launched in 2011. Tim is also the purveyor of New Vintage Leadership - a blog offering cutting edge insights on leadership and theology and the author of numerous articles and one book: Jesus, the Powerful Servant.