Discover these hidden factors that are undermining the health of your church congregation.

Life is fragile. But you know that.

All of us who are more than a generation old realize the physical and mental sharpness of our childhood and youth has diminished. It may not be obvious when we are twenty-something or thirty-something, but it is there. It becomes more obvious when we are forty-something and fifty-something and still trying to trying to push ourselves like we were much younger.

By the time we are sixty-something and seventy-something, the aging process is in full swing. Many of the symptoms of our aging have been present for decades, but they are just now having an obvious impact on us that we cannot overcome by just working harder. We must work smarter and choose carefully those things to which we commit ourselves. Health conditions that were not obvious in earlier decades are now part of our daily concern and actions.

If we make it to eighty-something or ninety-something, for the vast majority of us, health and life expectancy issues are not only a primary concern for us, but often for our family who love us and have a responsibility to help care for us.

Is the Same Pattern True for Congregations?

Absolutely! The patterns are clear.

Congregations often thrive for the first generation of their lives. At some point when they are twenty-something, their founding dream or vision wanes. If they do not intervene in their own journey in response to the spiritual nudge of the Triune God, the vitality and vibrancy of their congregation will diminish incrementally for the succeeding decades, and they will approach death at some future date.

Or they may realize the underlying spiritual, strategic, social and structural health issues and redevelop forward in response to a new or renewed vision. This is possible as a Christ-centered, faith-based, spiritual community. This is not something that is ultimately possible for us as individuals.

The ideal is that following the first generation of life, congregations will re-envision their future continually and effectively live into that vision as FaithSoaring churches. However, that is an ideal realized by less than 20 percent of congregations at any given time.

What about the rest of us?

Hidden Factors Undermining the Health of Congregations

George Bullard George is President of The Columbia Partnership at, a Christian ministry organization that seeks to transform the North American Church for vital and vibrant ministry. George is the author of three books: Pursuing the Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation, Every Congregation Needs a Little Conflict, and FaithSoaring Churches. George is also General Secretary [executive director] of the North American Baptist Fellowship at George is also Senior Editor of the TCP Leadership Series books with Chalice Press at More than 30 books have been published in this series during the past seven years.

More from George Bullard or visit George at

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  • ePHraimAg

    Murdering The Mind Of Christ within His Vessel…only wickedness left in a church ?

  • Harold Lloyd Daley, P.h.D.

    I am the lay associate pastor of a SDA church in LA and this is the most enlightening church developmental argument I have ever experienced. I am also 68 years old. I would like to use this article as an opening torche discussion for a suffering and dying congregation; but I need help. Please help!?

    Harold Lloyd Daley, P.h. D

  • ServantHeart2012

    Excellent article, but how does a church address numbers 2 through 19 if they can’t get past the last sentence of number 1?

  • revst

    What do you have to say to churches that are over 150 years old?

    • Jw

      It was dead a Long time ago. Either resurrect it or have a funeral service for it.

  • Maria

    Lord help us all! Revive us again!

  • Robin Gates

    Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:21 Brothers, Preach truth and establish the Church according to Isaiah 58:6-7 –

    “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
    To loose the bonds of wickedness,
    To undo the heavy burdens,
    To let the oppressed go free,
    And that you break every yoke?
    7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
    When you see the naked, that you cover him,
    And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

    I fear that the Body of Christ is hiding herself in the comfort of their buildings, from their own flesh. Jesus is calling, and He wants His bride back. Compromise, comfort, and complacency are the evil. Old buildings are old buildings.

  • Paxman

    Thanks for the wonderful articles

  • Paxman

    Thanks for the wonderful articles


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