If you are worried about your church closing, it might be closer to shutting its doors than you think.
We call it the death spiral.
It’s not a pleasant term. I can understand if it causes you to cringe.
By the time I am contacted about a serious problem in a church, it is often too late. The problems are deeply rooted, but the remaining members have been blind to them, or they chose to ignore them.
8 Signs of a Church Closing
There are eight clear signs evident in many churches on the precipice of closing. If a church has four or more of these signs present, it is likely in deep trouble. Indeed, it could be facing a church closing sooner than almost anyone in the church would anticipate.
1. There has been a numerical decline for four or more years. Worship attendance is in a steady decline. Offerings may decline more slowly as the “remnant” gives more to keep the church going. There are few or no conversions. Decline is clear and pervasive.
2. The church does not look like the community in which it is located. The community has changed its ethnic, racial or socioeconomic makeup, but the church has not. Many members are driving from other places to come to the church. The community likely knows little or nothing about the church. And the church likely knows little or nothing about the community.
3. The congregation is mostly comprised of senior adults. It is just a few years of funerals away from having no one left in the church.
4. The focus is on the past, not the future. Most conversations are about “the good old days.” Those good old days may have been 25 or more years in the past. Often a hero pastor of the past is held as the model to emulate.
5. The members are intensely preference-driven. They are more concerned about their music style, their programs, their schedules and their facilities than reaching people with the gospel. Their definition of discipleship is “others taking care of my needs.”