Churches are supposed to grow. We should want our churches to grow. Church growth is important because Jesus said so. He commands his disciples to go and grow the church (by making disciples, baptizing, and teaching what Jesus taught)! Church growth has two components. 1) The discipleship, teaching, and increasing spiritual maturity of existing believers and 2) New people being saved by God and discipled by the church. These reasons listed below are just a few of many, but they each prohibit the growth of existing believers and prevent churches from reaching unbelievers with the gospel. They are all related to one another and overlap quite a bit, but when you boil it down each one of these on its own can be enough to kill a church.
Too many churches are selfish. Too many churches are only worried about themselves. Churches that allow a culture of “Give me what I want or I will leave/throw a fit” are running down the path to death. Many small churches are filled with people who think they are shareholders in the church organization. Since they tithe and volunteer they think they have the authority to demand what they want. Selfish pastors are even more of a problem. The mark of a Christian is selflessness – caring about others more than yourself and giving yourself away. If your church is filled with selfish people who don’t sacrificially give of their time, energy, finances, you are in trouble. If you want your church to die, allow selfishness to continue.
Idolatry is so much more prevalent in churches than we are willing to admit. If you feel like there is something standing between you and God or your church and God, there probably is and it is probably an idol. Selfishness is an idol – caring first and foremost about what you want, not what God wants. Sports are an idol – regularly missing church for a sport (whether to watch on TV or to play on your travel/club team) shows that you value the sport more than God and his church. Comfort is an idol – Spending more time watching TV, reading a book, or eating than with God. Ease is an idol – always doing whatever is easiest often means not doing what is right. The list goes on and on. If your pastors and members worship idols such as these, the church will suffer greatly. God does not take idolatry lightly, read 1 Corinthians 10 if you don’t believe me.
Another form of selfishness is apathy. If you want to kill your church, apathy is the way to go. So many people just plain don’t care about walking with God, they don’t care about discipling their family and friends, they don’t care about church. Haven’t read your bible once this week? That’s apathy. Haven’t spoken to God once this week? That’s apathy. Your church hasn’t reached out to the community in a year? That’s apathy. People and churches need to care about their own personal growth. They need to care about missions and community outreach. They need to care about the sick and the hurting. Jesus cared deeply for all of these things and churches that don’t are destined for the grave.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is all about the problems that stem from disunity. The church in Corinth just plain didn’t know how to get along with one another and they didn’t know how to love each other. Everything bad that happened in the Corinthian church was rooted in disunity. They exhibited disunity in their marriages, in their friendships, in which leader they followed, in how they presented themselves in church, in how they used spiritual gifts, and in a dozen other ways. Disunity will kill a church at lightning speed. If your church does not know how to get along, how to have real conversations and authentic loving relationships, your future is bleak.
The list could go on and on. There should probably be about 15 more things on this list. What do you think they are? What would you add to the list of easy ways to kill a church?