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Should You Be Discouraged If Your Church Is Declining?

4) An intentional process to take in new members is established.

Raising the standard for membership and protecting the front door a bit might cause you to have fewer members join the church in the beginning, but God is honored in pastors making sure believers in Jesus Christ are the only ones that become members of the church, even if the church numbers do not boom like you hoped. Membership meaning something has actually been the eventual cause of numeric growth for us, not the other way around.

5) A new pastor takes a long-time declining church.

If you take a church as I did, with decades of decline, it is a challenge to change that pattern. It takes time, even years. I talk to so many young pastors who inside of two years are discouraged because they have not be able to changed the patterns that brought much of the decline. Remember what you have inherited, and if it took 30 years of decline to get your church where you find it today, it might take 30 years to change the pattern. But God’s gospel and word is powerful enough to do just that over time.

Therefore, dear brothers and fellow pastors, press on. You may be the cause of the decline and if that is the case, you need to take a good hard look at yourself before God and ask for those blind spots to be revealed. However, in many cases, imperfect pastors, especially those new to their congregations, are still bearing too much of the responsibility of the decline. Sometimes God takes us through ups and downs, and there is so much more to evaluate on a church’s health than whether your numbers are “higher” this year than last. Decline can reveal many problems, but it can also be a source of encouragement to a pastor.

Pastors, preach the word, love those people, stay a while and may God give you grace to determine what your “decline” should say.