The church in North America is fading - fast. If you are a Christian that sentence should hit you hard. If it didn't, please take a look at some numbers that James MacDonald lays out in this chapter (pg. 130):
- 6,000 churches close their doors every year
- Only 1 in 10 pastors retire while still in the ministry
- Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church
- Only 15% of churches are growing numerically in the U.S.
- 800 new church plants survive each year
- 10,000 new churches would be needed each year to keep up with population growth
If you are a numbers-person like I am, than those numbers should hurt. If you're a growing Christian who is sold-out for Christ, you should be concerned. If you love the Church, you should want better. We need better.
We've tried the horizontal approach. We've welcomed business leadership principles, man-centered strategies and entrepreneurship to teach us how to reach customers - the unsaved. We have replaced lethargic legalism with competency church. Our approach has been wrong. (p. 134)
I urge you to pick up a copy of this book. I read this chapter 3 times, and it hurt every time to read it. I'm not a pastor, I'm not an elder or a deacon. But I'm sold out for Christ and I want the church to be healthy, growing, thriving and making disciples. I want that for you. And I want that in my church.
If you've followed our story, than you know that this winter Joel and I found Harvest Bible Chapel. Our lives have been changed as we work alongside other sold-out Christians to plant a church near where we live. We are excited to be part of a church that is ridiculously excited to build a Christ-focused church where people are saved, lives are changed, disciples are made and God is glorified.
I don't know where you are in life as you're reading this - if you go to church, if you're growing in your church - maybe you're church homeless right now. But God wants you in a church where He is welcomed, His Word is preached and the Great Commission is fulfilled. So, how do you know if you need to look for a new church home? I sat down with our pastor and we discussed some Biblical reasons for leaving a church. I pray that these reasons may give you some guidance and peace.
When to leave a church...
When to leave a church...
- When a church isn't preaching the Gospel. Either the Gospel isn't been proclaimed on Sunday or the church has adopted a false version of the Gospel. (Gal. 1:6-9)
- When a church is not preaching/teaching sound Biblical doctrine. (Romans 16:17)
- When the church leadership does not model or promote a Biblical lifestyle. (Phil. 3:17, I Pt. 5:3)
- When the church refuses to practice church discipline. (I Cor. 5:6-8)
- When your spiritual gifts are not being used. (Romans 12:3-8)
- When you're not growing in your walk under the leadership of the church.
If you're a Christian, Sunday should be your favorite day of the week. You should look forward to Sunday morning all week - and you should leave the church doors saying I can't wait to go back. My prayer is that would be your experience, if not, pray what God would have for you.