Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Ten Troubling Statements Church Leaders and Members Make

Arguing-WorkersBy Thom Rainer

If you want your church to move toward a slow yet certain death, make certain your church leadership and membership affirms most of these ten statements. They are troubling statements. Indeed they are proclamations that virtually assure your church’s decline and probable demise.

What is troubling is that these statements are not uncommon. They are articulated by both staff and lay leaders at times. See if you have ever heard any of these ten.

  1. We hire our pastors and staff to do that. “That” can be evangelism. Or discipleship. Or caring for others. Or visiting people in the hospital. Some lay leaders view pastors and staff as hired hands to do ministry they should be doing themselves.
  2. We have enough churches in our community. I rarely see a community that is really “overchurched.” The number of unchurched people in any one community is typically increasing, not decreasing. This comment usually comes from church leaders who view new churches as competition.
  3. We are a discipleship church. Or an evangelism church. Or a ministry church. Church leaders who say their churches are focused on only one area of ministry are offering excuses not to be obedient in other areas.
  4. We have never done it that way before. Yes, it’s cliché. But it’s still a very pervasive attitude among change-resistant people in the church.
  5. We don’t have the money to do that. More times than not, the church does indeed have the money to focus on necessary priorities. The problem is that some church leaders don’t have the courage to reallocate funds toward those priorities.
  6. We really don’t emphasize small groups. Churches that do not give a priority to small groups or Sunday school classes can count on a big exodus of people out the back door. Those in groups are five times more likely to stay involved in a church than those in worship services alone.
  7. We have enough people in our church. This is a tragic statement by leaders of inwardly focused churches. And it is an excuse not to do evangelism and ministry.
  8. We aren’t a church for those kinds of people. Though similar to number seven, this statement is an appalling declaration made by church members who really believe people of a certain race, ethnic group, income group, or other descriptor should be excluded from the congregation.
  9. We really shouldn’t expect much of our members. Low expectation churches are far too common. Too many church leaders communicate unwisely that it’s okay for members to do nothing, give nothing, and not be concerned about growing spiritually.
  10. We focus only on our members, not guests and others. Many church leaders make this statement either explicitly or implicitly. Sometimes the facilities, the worship services, and the small groups shout “Guests not welcome!” I released a resource today that addresses this critical issue of guest friendliness.

What do you think of these ten troubling statements? Are they accurate? Are they fair? What would you add or change? [Please leave your comments below]



This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on December 8, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.


  • “We don’t have enough _________ to do that. ” “We’re too small”

  • Thanks for telling it like it is. Our churches need to wake up band realize it’s not about our church. ..it’s about the kingdom agenda.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    This is amazing and most acurate especially for a dying church.
    To add also, We will preach only the word the increase will come by faith.

  • Francis K. Tamba

    Amazing and acurate.

  • Pastor Jerome

    I agree that those are statements that can ruin a church. We as church leaders should look to the father for our guidance. When we make decisions on our own 9 times out of 10 we make the wrong choices. Only God knows the direction He wants His people to go in, when we look to Him for those answers, we can’t go wrong.

  • Robert Walker

    I have been involve in my church for over 30 years ,and as a lay leader, 25 of these years. Unfortunately, I have ,and even more so, am experiencing the slow death of my church. I and my Pastor both have introduced Dr. Rainer book ,The Autopsy of a Deceased Church, to the membership, in trying to get them to understand our present state. The 10 symptoms are so prevalent in so many churches. Thanks!!! for your acknowledgement of this subject. I see it as confirmation to keep pressing onward. I believe Christ, that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church. Thank you and Please!!! don’t stop bringing your prayerful insight of these subjects to the populations.

  • Bob

    Not accepting help when some one wants to help.

    Being judgmental and not supporting others in there walk.

  • Dr. Mark Lynch

    I agree with these statement whole heartily. I have always led smaller churches and I have found that most of the problem with smaller churches growing is the fact that they are stuck in a tradition that they are unwilling to change. In my case it is most often the unwillingness to even try to bring praise & worship music into the service to help draw younger families into the church. Most smaller churches are stuck using 250 and 300 year old music and unwilling to use any newer more spiritual praise and worship music into the church which will both bring life, spirit and joy into the service. They all to often consider it “satanic music” when in reality it is just as or more spiritual than some of the older hymns. They have sung the older hymns so long they have lost most of their meaning in the peoples lives, they simply sing the words without feeling what they are singing. Another major problem I have faced in my 27 years of ministry is the unwillingness for smaller churches to evangelize the community in which they reside. They claim “it is the Pastor’s job to do the visitation” and say “that’s what we pay you for” when the Bible is very clear that Pastor’s are called to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” If a Pastor is doing what God “called him to do” he will have a full time job and if the members would do what they are called to do then ” we would all come together in the fullness of God’s glory and our churches would grow and prosper.

  • J. R. Padgett

    Very accurate.
    If your not part of the solution,
    Then your part of the problem.

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