6 Ways to Reverse a Church Decline


"Quick-fix" formulas won't work. Here are six keys to stopping a church's decline.

I don’t particularly like the “quick-fix” formula some pundits offer to leaders of churches that are plateaued or experiencing a decline.

The approaches often appear to be man centered and methodological. Indeed, many times I think the solutions offered could just as easily apply to a civic organization as they could a church.

Nevertheless, I have had the wonderful opportunity to research churches across America, as well as to have literally hundreds of conversations with church leaders in a variety of settings.

What I have learned is that many churches have plateaued or declined. Many leaders are frustrated and seeking God’s solution to the situation. And a number of churches exhibit common patterns when they break out of their numerical slump.

Allow me to share six of the more common ways I have seen churches reverse a decline.

1. They enter a time of corporate prayer and fasting.

Sometimes the period is a short duration, such as 24 hours. But in that time, many members of the body agree to pray and fast to seek God’s face for His will for His church.

In some churches, the number of members who participate is relatively small compared to the whole membership. In other situations, a large number may participate. In each case, those who do pray and fast understand only God can ultimately give the increase to a congregation.

2. They start new groups.

Churches that start new small groups, new Sunday school classes, new home groups, new discipleship groups and a plethora of other possible groups, often experience turnaround growth. More often than not, the approach to starting these groups is more strategic than haphazard, and more intentional than incidental.   

Thom Rainer Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

More from Thom Rainer or visit Thom at http://www.thomrainer.com

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