I was in the nail shop and sat next to a woman probably in her late 60’s who was finishing up. She had her hands in the dryer.
We greeted each other and began our small talk. She asked politely, “Where do you go to church?”
For African Americans headquarters is usually the church. So in our culture, this question is ‘commonly’ asked.
I answered her. She then asked me how many members we had. I told her about 300 members. She leaned back on her chair saying, “Whew, that’s a ‘big’ church.”
I never really saw my church as a big church especially since on Sundays it wasn’t uncommon to have a few empty pews. I told her that we had two services. Her body language was such that I thought we were hot stuff.
I was merely trying to suggest that it took two services to get to 300 people. I figured I would take the pressure off me and ask her about her church. She told me the name of her church, her pastor and added proudly that she was born, raised there and had been there all of her life.
Familiar with the area, I asked her how close was she to the popular XYZ church. She told me that they were right across the street from ‘that’ mega church.
I couldn’t resist, so I asked her how many members did her church have. She replied, “Uh, 100 or so.” Because of her body language and tone I believe 100 was a stretch from reality.
Then it came, unsolicited, I may add, “Our pastor knows all of us by name.”
I went to a workshop once where a pastor of a mega church stated that if your church is not growing conversely it is dying. No church wants to be known as a dying church, but sadly many churches across America are dying.
What does this suggest? The answer is that many of our churches are not doing a good job of evangelizing. Many of us are simply not inviting people to church. As pastors, for the sake of the Kingdom, we need to ‘bite the bullet’ and explore this dilemma, but many of us are afraid of what it will uncover.
A district superintendent visited one of the churches he was responsible for overseeing. He noticed that most of the people in attendance were in their sixties and seventies. He asked his pastor why there was not even one young person in church when on his way to church he passed a playground filled with kids and stepped over a tricycle on the way into his church. The pastor had no response.
The truth is that many church aren’t interested in growing their congregations. They are happy with status quo and with their pastor knowing their names as if that were some real badge of honor.
THE ‘G’ WORD. I am sad to say that even in our church although evangelism is a very high priority, we have been silenced when it comes to publicizing the ‘G’ word. “G” stands for ‘Growth.’
Growth makes the masses scared. It suggests loss of intimacy, a loss of control , a loss of identity or even the possibility of being lost in the crowd. So what is the answer? How do you manage this dilemma?
A church can not survive the test of time on membership in their sixties. Soon, if not already, the church will be funded by pensions, social security and disability checks. The duration may last longer for the church that is paid off and in somewhat good repair. However, let’s not forget we have to pay the pastor along with his or her benefits.
We all must come to terms with the fact that our churches are either growing or dying. We need to do an assessment and ask the question, ‘why aren’t we growing and then resolve to put measures in place to attract others to our churches.
Why do you believe many of our churches are dying?