“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” Those are the words of General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, who is currently in the news because of the VA scandal.
There are few things as sad as watching a once great church grow old, become irrelevant and slowly die. What is worse is that they either don’t know they’re dying, or they simply don’t care as long as those remaining are happy. Sadly, I have witnessed this more times than I wish to count. In addition, I have attended this type of church before.
Here is what I have noticed about many of these churches—at a pivotal point, a decision was made to continue doing ministry the way they always have rather than alter their approach to reach a changing community or the next generation. After months of committee meetings and off-line conversations, the church finally utters the The 10 Last Words of Dying Churches—“We’ve never done it that way before. We’re not changing.”
Those 10 powerful words subsequently have a ripple effect that lasts generations. As a result, the following are additional comments those attending these churches are bound to say and/or hear shortly thereafter:
- “Isn’t it great that our music is never too loud?”
- “Isn’t it nice seeing people in coats and ties and not disrespecting God by wearing jeans and shorts?”
- “We’re more spiritual and doctrinally pure than that fast-growing, watered-down gospel, baptizing-hundreds–maybe-thousands-every-year church down the street.”
- “Can you believe that church is stealing all our young people?”
- “I hear we’re having to cut the budget because giving is not what it used to be.”
- “Isn’t it great having all this room on the pew to spread out.”
- “I love singing all four verses.”
- “Don’t worry about our attendance. Let me tell you how large our membership is.”
- “Are you coming to Monday night visitation? How about the Wednesday night prayer service?”
- “Remember the good ‘ole days.”
- “Visitors, please stand.”
- “I hear it’s just a show over there.”
- “We just formed a Committee on Committees.”
- “We don’t talk about money. We preach the Bible.”
- “You don’t want that fast growth. Slooooow growth is what you need.”
- “Isn’t it great getting out of the parking lot quickly?”
- “The poor will always be with us.”
- “I’m really tired of having to hear about lost people all the time.”
- “Pastor, I think we need to start praying for revival.”
Do these phrases hit close to home for you? Are there any more comments you want to add that you’ve heard?