Every year nearly 4,000 churches close their doors. The reasons for that could be as various as the people that make them up. This statistic has been used by many when talking about the decline of faith in the United States. I believe using this statistic to back up the notion of godlessness is highly unfair. This is one Pastor who believes that some of those churches should have closed their doors. I also will make the claim that there are many other churches out there that need to follow suit and close their doors as well. Instead of making shocking statements let me just list a few reasons when its time for a church close. As you read this list some mentioned can be fixed, however it takes drastic changes.
The family church. (literally)
If the church you attend is exactly like a Christmas gathering because all you see is relatives, then it is time to stop. That is not a church its a venue for a weekly family function. I’m not saying that what could be happening in that church is not godly. What I’m saying is you need fellowship and community with other believers that are not named cousin or grandpa. Family churches also are some of the most unhealthy, just like family businesses. For the reason of everything is personal.
The false teaching church.
For those of you that might think I’m just picking on the small church I’m not. There are mega churches of 10,000 plus people that have left the truth of the Gospel behind, and they need to close up shop as well. Romans 16: 17-18 tells us: I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
There are churches that exist today under the guidance of individuals who have nothing in it besides their own personal satisfaction. Christianity is not this warm tingling feeling. Christianity is the intentional life change that happens when we discover Jesus. Christianity is knowing Jesus is real, nowhere does it say the church or Jesus is there to make you happy, successful, or popular. If a church is not intentionally pointing people to the cross daily, I would question if they are a church.
The “we” centered church.
This is the church that neglects the great commission in Matthew 28. The church is called to be the light to the world, not to just the people warming its pews. This is the question of is our church missional, are we prayerfully, monetarily, and spiritually supporting outreach to the ends of the earth. Phrases this church makes: “We just need to focus on our needs right now” “Our local community is the only mission field for us” “The people of the church are called to tithe, but the church doesn’t have too.” It is scary to look across the country and observe how many churches have fallen into the isolationistic mentality. For even the apostles in acts knew the mission was to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The prodigal son church.
To the church that broke unity for issues based on preferences and personality differences. There are a multitude of churches that exist today because a leader with some members left and started their own. I first want to say this is sad, and shows why the world calls us hypocrites. Yes, I am sure you feel justified. Yes, I even acknowledge that you believe what you did is right. My only question is we teach people to reconcile with their brothers and sisters in Christ that is spoken of in Matthew chapter five. Does that not apply here?
If you broke unity for worship style, wasn’t the more righteous approach sitting down and breaking bread, and calmly talking about vision. If you broke unity because you feel like a church leader let you down; Can I honestly tell you that every Church leader will let you down at some point. I call this the prodigal son church for the hope that down the line someone reflects on their church and the motives that started it, and then with the awareness of God knows unity is to be had.
I am aware some might not like the list I came up with. Please understand that I write this for the reason of discussion. The only one on the list that really is not up for discussion is the second point. Something else to think about is of the 4,000 churches that closed last year, was Gods hand in that? I will fully admit that there will never be a perfect church in this country or on this planet. I do however strongly urge all of us to be aware of how effective, and Godly our churches are when it comes to carrying out the mission for Christ.
Everyone of us can make a difference, the healthier the believer the healthier the church! As you read this whether you are just the church goer or a pastor, know there is something we can all do. That something is being reflective on our own spiritual lives and proactively working on our lives. Lastly we all must remember we all still have something to learn, so sit at the feet of Jesus and take it all in.