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    Christian Advice Requested - Thread: What kills church growth?

    1. #1
      Lämmchen's Avatar
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      What kills church growth?

      I just saw an ad for the title of this thread "What kills church growth?" We know it's God who grows His church but what sorts of things can prohibit the church from growing?
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

    2. #2
      jsimms435's Avatar
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      A focus on only members and not reaching out to the community.
      Being legalistic and rigid in thinking and unloving
      being unfriendly, members not forgiving each other wrongs

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    4. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      I just saw an ad for the title of this thread "What kills church growth?" We know it's God who grows His church but what sorts of things can prohibit the church from growing?
      I hate to say it, but it's usually something that is not actually the "fault" of the church in question. For example, not having a robust children's and youth program (including social events not directly connected to religious matters), not going in for a lot of emotional preaching and pop music, and not having moral standards that many people in today's society consider old-fashioned such that they prefer not to have them brought up while they're in church.

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    6. #4
      MennoSota is online now Expert Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      I just saw an ad for the title of this thread "What kills church growth?" We know it's God who grows His church but what sorts of things can prohibit the church from growing?
      I take this to mean: What causes a local congregation to grow or to shrink. Is that an accurate interpretation?
      Many of the mega-churches use marketing schemes based upon sociological research. They simply appeal to the human wants revealed in surveys and research. This is why a Joel Osteen, Oprah Winfrey and Creflo Dollar can gain a large following. What will shrink congregations is removing the things that people want. When people do their own cost-benefit analysis, they will determine if anything is in it for themselves. If there is little benefit to themselves, they will just hop to another church. If they find no church, they will switch to another social outlet. Religion, sports, hobbies, etc. Whatever community feeds their self-want will become their "church." Do you ever wonder why so many Lutherans and Catholics only show up for Christmas and Easter? Clearly they find very little self-benefit in the church. That begs deeper perception, but that is something most people have no desire to ponder.

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    8. #5
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      I must admit I was pondering along similar lines to MennoSota.

      If "church growth" is measured purely in terms of how many people show up then the way to achieve it is to offer what people want, regardless of whether or not it's anything to do with Jesus Christ. Maybe pay lip service to the idea of being a church and reaching out to help people, but only in a way that doesn't really cost anything. Whether you claim those needing help were merely predestined to be poor or blame them in some way for their own suffering (they didn't pray enough, they lack faith, they follow the wrong god etc) doesn't really matter, we can throw them a few bones while metaphorically patting them on the head and not getting our hands too dirty.

      On the other hand if people are showing up and actually living the gospel as Jesus taught us, that's pretty radical compared to modern society. These days it seems people go for "virtue signalling" where they show everyone they are on the right side of current events, but they do it with nothing more than a new background for their Facebook profile picture, or by retweeting from the right people, or posting the right opinions online, or whatever else it is. You know, after the latest atrocity everyone and their dog updates their profile picture to say "I stand with (whoever it was today)". I'm sure the victims of the latest tragedy really appreciate knowing how many people from around the world "stand with them" (obviously without doing anything useful, because that would cost something). But to actually get your hands dirty and deal with "the least of these", to love the unlovely, that involves a personal cost and some of the people are, well, a bit icky. Likewise to take what Scripture says and actually preach it, including when it says something is sinful, flies in the face of a society that thinks anything goes and the only thing nobody should be doing is judging.

      Hence if church growth is measured by how many people show up, what kills it is a failure of marketing. If you don't give people somethign they don't show up.

      If church growth is measured in terms of the spiritual growth of its members, the dynamic changes completely. In this situation what kills church growth is anything that stunts the spiritual growth of the membership, however large or small it may be. Chances are that's going to involve either a lack of solid Biblical teaching, or a lack of discipling, or the kind of atmosphere where people feel they can't be real because people will judge them. And to an extent that's something that's difficult to weed out, short of identifying people who cause the problem and either solving it or removing them from the church.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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    10. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      I must admit I was pondering along similar lines to MennoSota.

      If "church growth" is measured purely in terms of how many people show up then the way to achieve it is to offer what people want, regardless of whether or not it's anything to do with Jesus Christ. Maybe pay lip service to the idea of being a church and reaching out to help people, but only in a way that doesn't really cost anything. Whether you claim those needing help were merely predestined to be poor or blame them in some way for their own suffering (they didn't pray enough, they lack faith, they follow the wrong god etc) doesn't really matter, we can throw them a few bones while metaphorically patting them on the head and not getting our hands too dirty.

      On the other hand if people are showing up and actually living the gospel as Jesus taught us, that's pretty radical compared to modern society. These days it seems people go for "virtue signalling" where they show everyone they are on the right side of current events, but they do it with nothing more than a new background for their Facebook profile picture, or by retweeting from the right people, or posting the right opinions online, or whatever else it is. You know, after the latest atrocity everyone and their dog updates their profile picture to say "I stand with (whoever it was today)". I'm sure the victims of the latest tragedy really appreciate knowing how many people from around the world "stand with them" (obviously without doing anything useful, because that would cost something). But to actually get your hands dirty and deal with "the least of these", to love the unlovely, that involves a personal cost and some of the people are, well, a bit icky. Likewise to take what Scripture says and actually preach it, including when it says something is sinful, flies in the face of a society that thinks anything goes and the only thing nobody should be doing is judging.

      Hence if church growth is measured by how many people show up, what kills it is a failure of marketing. If you don't give people somethign they don't show up.

      If church growth is measured in terms of the spiritual growth of its members, the dynamic changes completely. In this situation what kills church growth is anything that stunts the spiritual growth of the membership, however large or small it may be. Chances are that's going to involve either a lack of solid Biblical teaching, or a lack of discipling, or the kind of atmosphere where people feel they can't be real because people will judge them. And to an extent that's something that's difficult to weed out, short of identifying people who cause the problem and either solving it or removing them from the church.
      Having worked in a church twice before, I can tell you that rarely are most church conflicts doctrinal in nature. Most of the time it is over something such as someone got their feelings hurt because the pastor didn't come see them in the hospital (probably because the pastor didn't know about them being in the hospital) or they wanted orange carpet and the church decided on a different color or they don't like the youth ministers hair or something mundane like that. From what I have seen it is not usually doctrinal.
      I had one man quit as a Sunday School teacher because I suggested the classes have fellowships together outside of the Sunday School hour. It was just a suggestion, but he got offended and quit all of the offices he held without coming to me to try and resolve the situation

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    12. #7
      Stravinsk is offline Composer and Artist on Flat Earth
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      I just saw an ad for the title of this thread "What kills church growth?" We know it's God who grows His church but what sorts of things can prohibit the church from growing?
      Within the question you ask lies a few assumptions. Namely, they are:

      1. The "church" is a body of believers/belief that can be measured or quantified by standards we can observe. As there are many churches under the banner of Christ expressing many different beliefs and practices, it is difficult to coral them all within a statement of faith, and even if this is done there will be differences that render that statement wholly or partially meaningless.

      2. Given the assumption in #1, the second assumption is that there is a list (usually a short list) that can be applied to "fix" the "problem"

      As other posters have mentioned, there are a variety of reasons people will not come to (no growth) or cease to come to (negative growth) a particular church under the banner that we observe as "the church". Any one of them, taken as "the reason" or "the main reason" falls short, because there are as many reasons people don't go or stop going to a particular church as there are churches. Some for simply social reasons, some for doctrinal, some for a variety of reasons.

      I personally would be in the "negative growth" equation as I do not attend a church(given assumption #1 is accurate, which I don't believe) - but did for the major part of my years thus far. The reasons for me weren't lack of pop music or church functions or things of that nature. The biggest reason for me was the duplicity I saw in people, some of the doctrines of Saul/Paul that I could never accept, and lack of intellectual honesty in certain areas of church practice and belief that applies to most.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      I just saw an ad for the title of this thread "What kills church growth?" We know it's God who grows His church but what sorts of things can prohibit the church from growing?
      Greed, division, pride, and fear

      Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
      Last edited by popsthebuilder; 02-18-2018 at 06:11 AM.
      Faith in selfless Unity for Good.

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    16. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by jsimms435 View Post
      Having worked in a church twice before, I can tell you that rarely are most church conflicts doctrinal in nature. Most of the time it is over something such as someone got their feelings hurt because the pastor didn't come see them in the hospital (probably because the pastor didn't know about them being in the hospital) or they wanted orange carpet and the church decided on a different color or they don't like the youth ministers hair or something mundane like that. From what I have seen it is not usually doctrinal.
      I had one man quit as a Sunday School teacher because I suggested the classes have fellowships together outside of the Sunday School hour. It was just a suggestion, but he got offended and quit all of the offices he held without coming to me to try and resolve the situation
      I'm sure much conflict is over something petty although personally I don't think I've experienced that. I have left one church because I found their teaching was badly off-base and getting worse (and leadership refused to address my concerns at all - they wouldn't/couldn't even give me answers to my questions of how it might reconcile with Scripture). I've seen people leave a church over a stance on something they considered to be major, and I've seen division within a church over a major building project (by "major" I'm talking a project running into the mid-range of seven figures).

      Maybe I've been lucky, maybe you've been unlucky.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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      In addition to the answer I already provided, I'd like to provide one that is a little more base:

      Sex. Between male and female, marriage, and children. More sex, more children, more young ones brought up in the religion = either growth or at least some level of sustainability, on the given that they do not verge from it later.

      That actually applies to any religion. On pure numbers, the Muslim faith will continue to outgrow the Christian faith or any other faith that does not procreate. The wide acceptance of abortion and homosexual "marriages", along with radical feminism all contribute. They are big factors in the "killing" of the church (that is, on the assumption of what that is), simply on numbers.

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