The Death Of A Church

The Death Of A Church

Posted on 16. Dec, 2009 by in Challenging Status Quo, Tradition

While waiting at Starbucks this morning, I was sitting in contemplation of what makes a ministry or church remarkable. I may have more to say about that in a few days. However, that is not the point of this note. Thinking of remarkable, i thought of engaging so I did a quick Google of engaging church and ran across the power point slides for a presentation regarding an engaging church.

Two things that stood out in this presentation that relate to my title.

First, a quote: “The longer a church exists the more concerned it becomes with self preservation…the less concerned with its original purpose.” (Engaging Church Seminar ppt).

Second, they show a life-cycle of a church: Missional, Institutional, Disintegration.

Now to this let me throw out my two cents worth.

Most people start a church because of a vision, calling, burden etc. They are excited, full of faith. They desire to make a difference. In the early stages there is the willingness to sacrifice because it is all about the purpose or vision. But as it grows, gaining momentum, there seems to be a transformation. Now it is what do we do with what we have gained or accomplished?

It is at this stage we find a turn from external missional focus to an internal establishment or institutionalism. Facilities must be acquired (may I ask, who says so?), staff must be placed in positions (based on who’s model?), programs must be established (why?). The end results is that this once excited, world changing small group of people has become an organization or institution, with a focus of gaining new people to maintain the organization.

Now I know, many leaders will say “That is not my mind set, we are kingdom minded.” Well, let me ask a couple of thought provoking questions:

1. Instead of one full time paid leader (pastor, overseer, bishop, elder, apostle, etc.) why not spread that full time salary over 2-4 leaders? Allow them to only have to work part-time. Let them stay focused on the vision and purpose of the church. These same individuals can share the responsibilities of shepherding the flock.

2. Instead of building a new building and going into debt, why not multiply the congregation? Take a group and plant a fully functioning NEW assembly.

Now I believe how an individual answers these questions reveals their level of Kingdom thinking.

The sad thing is that this institutionalization leads to the stagnation of tradition (for real meaning of tradition click here). It becomes all about maintaining the status quo. What once started as relevant, exciting, challenging or envelop pushing has now become stagnated by the security of traditions. Thus the disintegration begins.

Now before you may get to upset with me, my motive for writing this is to get us to think. Why must a church go through these phases? Why can’t it stay missional focused and fulfill it’s vision? It can, if we are aware of the dangers of the traditional process AND establish a ministry philosophy that will be willing to go against the norms of religion. That church will truly be remarkable.

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4 Responses to “The Death Of A Church”

  1. PaulB Thomas

    04. Feb, 2010

    Hi Martin thanks for this article. I particularly like the first point having 2-4 leaders. I would be interested in knowing what churches are there within the apostolic commmunity that have a visible five fold, (Ephesians 4:11) working, practice or model? and are they significantly stronger as a result!.

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  2. 2nd man united

    18. Feb, 2011

    “Now I believe how an individual answers these questions reveals their level of Kingdom thinking.”

    That’s a great insight right there. I would push #1 even further. There is no precedent for paying leaders salaries in the New Testament. Some leaders, like Peter, received financial gifts during special missions, but this was only because he had to travel and plant churches. Even then, it was hard to get some leaders (Paul for example) to accept money and be a burden on the church. That’s a deep subject covered well in books like Pagan Christianity. Thought I would just mention it here.

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  3. John Daly

    02. Dec, 2012

    We have bi-vocational lay-elders. We don’t receive any compensation from our local congregation. This allows more $ for ministry.

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