Why Is Our Church Stagnating, and What Do We Do? By Ed Stetzer

When we hear the term “stagnating,” it likely elicits a response from us of something unhealthy and functioning poorly. Although it is sometimes the case that something stagnates for bad reasons, it is also true that stagnation is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what we are talking about. When it comes to churches, there can be many reasons for a church to stagnate. Not all of them are bad, and not all are under the church’s control.

Let me share four scenarios, and where we go from here.

First, healthy non-growth– small communities

A church can be healthy when it is not growing because not all churches are in communities that are growing. For example, this sometimes occurs in rural ministry. If a church is in a town of 100 people and 30 people are at that church, that church is doing an amazing job because it has reached a third of the town.

In such a church, growth might not be likely. Of course, this example of a church should continue to reach out to those other 70 people who don’t know Jesus. But the reality is, it’s just not the case that growth is always a possibility.

And there are, indeed, other scenarios where a church can be healthy and not growing.

But, sometimes a church is not growing for other reasons.

Second, sometimes God is disiciplining a church

Sometimes churches are not growing because God is stopping the growth as he is disciplining the church. Perhaps the church has not been faithful. However, we must be careful not to hastily assume a church is not growing because God is disciplining it.

It is easy to look at a church, especially from the outside, and say the reason the church is not growing is for such and such a reason: it’s under the discipline of the Lord, it’s dysfunctional, God doesn’t want to bring new believers into a church that is so unfaithful, on and on.

But we all know of churches that are not faithful to the gospel and do grow. And we know of churches that are faithful to the gospel and don’t grow. We shouldn’t immediately assume that that non-growth is God disciplining a church, though that does happen.

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Source: Christianity Today