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Seven Signs That Your Church Is In Danger

(Short Version)

Rev. Daniel R. Jennings, M.A.


            After graduating from Bible college I assumed that I would enter into full time pastoral ministry with a local congregation. However, the Lord by His good Providence chose to not allow this to happen. Without the constraint of being tied to one church I was given the opportunity to visit a number of different kinds of churches. I visited large churches with memberships ranging from the hundreds to thousands. And I also visited small churches ranging in size from around seventy people down to as small a group as eight people. My visits were also not limited just to the United States. I was able to visit churches in Great Britain and Mexico as well. These churches included representations from most Protestant traditions-Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal and so forth. As I began to familiarize myself with these different congregations something caught my attention. I noticed that whereas many of them had at one time been thriving, enthusiastic and growing churches their membership had over time dwindled down and was nowhere near where it was before. In all of the churches of this kind that I examined it only seemed a matter of time before these churches would either dwindle so small that they would have to merge with another congregation or just close their doors entirely. This peaked my curiosity and I wondered why were these churches that were at one time full of members now emptying. As I dug deeper, looking at the history of these congregations, I soon saw a pattern emerging over and over again. It didn’t really matter what denomination the church was a part of this pattern seemed to occur time and time again in churches that went from being full and strong to empty and weak. While all dwindling congregations did not necessarily have all of the following signs, they would always have changed their stances in the majority of them. These signs were as follows: 1.) There was no weekly prayer meeting; 2.) There was no emphasis on fasting; 3.) There was little or no “evangelical conviction”; 4.) There is little or no mention of hell; 5.) An attempt was made to take away the stigma from divorce and remarriage; 6.) The members of the church just couldn’t seem to understand why people didn’t want to come to their church, yet they had trouble explaining why a person should come to their church; and 7.) The congregation was open to women being the senior pastor of the church.

            Consequently, when an examination was made into the stand of the church on these issues at the time when they were growing and prosperous it was discovered that: 1.) There had been a weekly time set aside for the church to come together for prayer (Ac 1:13-14); 2.) There had been encouragement made for the members to fast (Mt 6:16-18); 3.) The church had been motivated to reach out to the community out of their “evangelical conviction” that if those outside the church did not repent from their sins they would go to hell (Lk 13:1-9); 4.) There had been frequent mention of hell as a real place that all men had the ability to either choose or reject as their final and eternal dwelling place (Mt 10:28); 5.) A stigma had been placed upon divorce and remarriage (Mk 10:11-12, Lk 16:18); 6.) The members had understood that people needed to come to church in order to make sure that they were saved and going to heaven (He 10:24-25); and 7.) The congregation had understood that the role of senior pastor, according to the Bible, was reserved for men according to God’s set pattern in the Scriptures (1Ti 2:11-15).

            By this point some readers will undoubtedly realize that their dwindling congregation is perfectly described by the above shift in ideas and will be wondering if it is too late to stop the decline and eventual closure of their house of worship. The reader can be assured that if one will confess his errors in church discipline and practice to God and reverse his church’s stance on the above issues that he or she will see a reversal in the dwindling memberships of their congregations.