From your own experience what would you list as the top 5 reasons churches are declining in our country? I don’t have research at my finger tips to support my own thoughts on this topic but I offer what I see as I coach church leaders around the country. If you evaluate your church, leadership and ministry and find the following list too close to home I have good news for you. The following list of ailments can be cured. They are not pMARSHALL-MUGSHOT-3permanent. You can take steps to correct them.  Here is my list. Such as it is.

1. Mission Drift: Churches and ministries get off mission. They start out fine and on target to fulfill the Great Commission then somewhere along the way other priorities take presidence and the next thing you know you have drifted off course and are no longer seeing people discipled TO Christ and then IN Christ. Other things become more important. Take your pick. You can replace your calling with any number of things. The trouble is you think you are fine and doing well. Plenty of activities, meetings, events, programs, projects and so forth to keep you busy and your eye off the ball. Mission Drift is a ministry killer.

2. The lack of Vision Clarity: Many churches are adrift on an ocean of ministry with no destination in sight. They don’t really know who they are or what they want to be when they grow up or where they are headed. I see great confusion among the ranks of church leaders in our country. At some point each church has to discover and develop God’s vision for their congregation and start moving in the right direction to reach the place where God wants them to be.

3. Internally Focused: Many church members feel and think that church is all about them. Their programs, staff, and money are all primarily internally focused on serving the members of the church. I believe it was Thom Rainer that said 95% of the programs in our churches are designed to serve the membership. I heard another source state that 97 cents out of every dollar is ear marked to serve the membership. There is a nation-wide epidemic among our churches in this country. We are out of balance when it comes to our focus. Our priority is ourselves. We are not the self-sacrificing church. We are the self-serving and self-centered church. We are the church of the selfie.

4. An unwillingness to Change: I have been told that over 90% of people with lung cancer or heart disease choose death over changing their habits so they can live. This is the American Church in a nutshell. We refuse to adapt and adjust to reach the people in our communities. We want them to change to fit into our church and if they will not do so it is too bad for them. We have divorced our mission and married our methodology or customs or our church culture and comfort. Take your pick. We have exchanged the urgency for souls to come to Christ with something else that is to our liking.

5. Out of Alignment: Simply put. The church is out of alignment. Alignment with God and His Word. Out of alignment with God’s mission and vision for His church. Out of alignment with God’s values and priorities for the church. We have lost our battle cry…souls for Jesus. Our battle cry has become something else. We are not focused on honoring God through making disciples that make disciples who will in turn make more disciples.
Well, that is how it looks from here. What say ye? Why do you think so many of the churches in our country are in decline? I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic. What do you see causing the churches to decline? What are the key factors? What are the solutions? Let us hear from you.

Marshall Shannon
Ministry Design Coach
Pre-Construction Navigator 
Equipping & Encouraging Pastors and Ministry Leaders
Creating Facility Design Solutions