Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Thom Rainer: 5 Things That Masked The Death of a Church

Thom Rainer: 5 Things That Masked The Death of a Church

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As we look at the incredible response to the book Autopsy of a Deceased Church, which has been out for just over a decade now, I think it’s worth noting why some members were really surprised when their church closed its doors. Many people don’t see the death of a church coming.

“I didn’t see it coming,” commented a member of a deceased church. She knew the church had declined, but she was not prepared for the demise of her congregation. In her church, and in many others, there are at least five things that can trick members into believing their church is doing OK. Here are five things that masked the death of these congregations.

5 Things That Masked the Death of a Church

The church had money. In some cases, the church had a lot of money in the bank. Accumulated dollars do not equate to congregational health. In fact, it often points to sickness, even sickness to the point of death. A vibrant bank account is not the same as a vibrant church.

Members still had their friends in the church. This issue masked the death of the church quite often. As long as the members had their holy huddle around them, they were oblivious to the deteriorating conditions around them. The stench of dying and death was masked by the perfume and cologne of friends.

Guests still came to the church. We interviewed one member of a deceased church who was shocked the church had to close because guests came almost every week. If she had looked carefully, though, she would have noted those guests never came back.