Posted by: pastortomvabeach | March 25, 2014

Thought for the Week March 30, 2014 sends regular email articles of interest to pastors and leaders of local churches. One this week caught my eye. Dr. Tejado Hanchell, Senior Pastor of Mount Calvary Holy Church of Winston-Salem, NC, wrote an article entitled Church Members, Here Are Ten Ways to KILL Your Church. He began by citing some staggering statistics:

“Some researchers suggest that between 3,500-4,500 churches close their doors (or die) each year.” Do you know that this means since Christian Chapel began over 28 years ago, between 98,000 and 126,000 churches have died? Dr. Hanchell goes on to say, “I suspect that most church ‘deaths’ occur for a few simple (and oftentimes avoidable) reasons.”

One of the senior members in their church brought in a church newsletter from 1959 that contained the article, 10 Ways to Kill a Church. Dr. Hanchell said the thing that interested him most was “how the list of ‘church killers’ written in 1959 looks so much like the usual suspects in many church deaths today.” I wonder if you would think that these are ways to kill a church. The following are the first five of Dr. Hanchell’s slightly paraphrased version of the 1959 list. I’ll share the rest next week.

“1. Don’t come. One of the biggest church killers is waning attendance. Many people simply can’t find the time to spend an hour or two in the Lord’s house. We find excuse after excuse as to why we can’t come to church. I wonder what our lives would look like if God only showed up at our house as often as we showed up at His. The Bible is clear about the importance of assembling or coming together (Hebrews 10:25). I believe in the importance of going to church…If we don’t go to church, we just might be playing a part in killing the church.

“2. If you do come, make sure it’s late. So many of today’s worshipers (and apparently those of 1959) have a lackadaisical attitude toward worship. We have an ‘I’ll get there when I get there’ attitude when it comes to church attendance. I wonder, however, if we showed up to our job the way we show up to our church…how many of us would still be employed? We say that God is an ‘on time’ God, but can He say the same about us? A lack of punctuality when it comes to worship is a microcosm of our overall view of God. It says that whatever else we are doing is more important, and God can just wait until we get there. This type of attitude is a major church killer.

“3. Only show up when the weather is good. Ever been to church in a driving rainstorm? Neither have most of the other people in your church! Some people only go to church when the sun is out and there are no clouds in the sky. We have produced a culture of ‘fair-weather’ Christians, who only attend church when everything is going right in their lives. The moment a storm hits their life, they get mad at God, the pastor and the church. There are some people who you can tell exactly what’s going on in their lives based upon their church attendance. When things are great and they have a little money in their pockets, they’re on the front row singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ but as soon as they get laid off or deal with some sort of difficulty, they’re ready to ‘curse God and die’ (Job 2:9). The only thing that dies with that kind of attitude is the church.

“4. Find fault with everything (and/or everyone). Most homicide investigations begin by researching those who had something negative to say about the victim. Similarly, when a church dies, you can be sure that the fault finders are prime suspects. These are the folks who sit ‘in the seat of the scornful’ (Psalm 1:1). Fault finders can always SPOT a problem, but they never SOLVE a problem. They are definitely church killers.

“5. Never accept a leadership role or responsibility. Many people have a ‘renters’ mentality when it comes to church; they take no ownership. When you rent an apartment, if something breaks, you call the landlord to fix it. Since you don’t own it, you have no obligation to fix it. There are too many people renting pews (and some pulpits). It’s far easier to criticize than to mobilize. As Seth Godin says, ‘No one has ever built a statue to a critic.’ If we want to make a difference, we have to accept the responsibility to lead — whether formally or informally. Leadership is not about position; it’s about productivity. A congregation full of followers is on life support and is getting ready to die.”

Those pretty much say it all, don’t they? I would add to number 3, when the weather is too good, go to the beach or the mountains or the local theme park, which seems to happen a lot! Chew on these for a week and you can look at the other five ways. While you chew on them, would you be bold enough to commit that you will not be a church killer? Some thoughts to consider.

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