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Top 10 Challenges Facing the Church

challenges facing the church
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If you lead a church (or lead in a church), you’re facing plenty of challenges. Let’s call them “opportunities,” like when we discuss “areas for growth” with a struggling employee. These “opportunities” may feel overwhelming. Or like an immovable object. You may be pondering leaving the ministry in the face of these challenges. I was a lead pastor for about 13 years and have been in professional ministry for nearly 18 years. I’ve also consulted with churches and coached pastors for the past three years. With all this in mind, here are the top 10 challenges facing the church and one practical suggestion for each you can implement today.

Top 10 Challenges Facing the Church

Challenge 1: Declining Attendance

Many churches are experiencing decreased weekly attendance, both in frequency and new members.

Solution Idea: We have to add attendance to engagement. In the past, we focused on things like small group involvement, volunteering, and serving. Engagement requires (or is predicated upon) attendance. Rather than assume attendance, add it to your engagement focus.

Challenge 2: Financial Strain

Churches are facing financial difficulties due to lower tithes and offerings. Giving is down in most churches. This parallels Challenge 1. When people stop attending, they eventually stop giving.

Solution Idea: Growing generosity is an act of intentionality. Rather than speak to everyone in your church about giving through a sermon or an offering moment, try segmenting your church population into four, five, or six giving categories. I have a course on this topic, but wait to get it. I’m launching something on July 1 that will make it a much better value for you.

Challenge 3: Digital Transformation

The year of COVID forced every church into the digital space, even if barely. Too many churches assumed they were now “hybrid.” This is a misnomer. Digital channels should support discipleship and integrate into our spiritual formation plans. The key word is “integration.”

Solution Idea: The best way to use digital channels is how they’re created and intended to be used. Decide what kind of person you’ll target with each digital platform to be even more strategic. For instance, Instagram stories and reels are how those under 40 will first engage with your church. Use these spaces intentionally. Facebook posts are the most insider of social media, but when you post stories and celebrations of life change, your insiders will be more apt to share with their digital circle. Finally, don’t use any of these social channels as an information conduit. For information, email is, and will probably remain, king.

Challenge 4: Volunteer Engagement

People are way less likely to commit today, and they are also less likely to keep the commitment once made. When you consider the average attendance frequency, it’s no wonder getting new volunteers feels like pulling teeth.

Solution Idea: Churches need more accessible, small, and incremental on-ramps to serve. Gone are the days when we can ask people to show up every week for multiple hours. Create dozens of one-hour opportunities and promote them directly to non-volunteers. A great taste of serving is the best step towards more engaged volunteering.

Challenge 5: Community Relevance

Many churches want to meet the needs of their community. That’s admirable, but it’s not our mission. Hang with me. Churches are not non-profit organizations. Their mission is discipleship (evangelism plus spiritual formation). Running a food pantry can be used within this mission, but too often, churches allow things like this to become their mission.

Solution Idea: Complement these community organizations to refrain from competing. Rather than creating a food pantry or homeless shelter, inspire your congregation to fund and serve at those organizations already in your community that could use the help. This keeps your mission the priority while engaging in the community.

 

Discover five more challenges facing the church on Page Two:
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gavinadams@churchleaders.com'
Gavin Adams believes the local church is the most important organization on the planet and he is helping to transform them into places unchurched people love to attend. As the Lead Pastor of Watermarke Church, (a campus of North Point Ministries), Watermarke has grown from 400 to 4000 attendees in five years. A student of leadership, communication, church, and faith, Gavin shares his discoveries through speaking and consulting. Follow him at @Gavin_Adams and at gavinadams.com.