Eight Reasons Many Bible Belt Churches Are in Trouble

October 31, 2016

What a big difference a region makes.

Or use to make.

I served as pastor of four churches, and three of them were in the Bible Belt. One was not. It was my favorite.

The Bible Belt refers to that region of the southeastern and south-central United States where church attendance has been higher historically, and where biblical values are more closely aligned with cultural values.

But the buckle of the Bible Belt is coming off. That means the entire belt will soon fall off. And it is happening rapidly.

There are thousands of churches in the Bible Belt. Sadly, too many of them are not adjusting to the changing realities of the area. They still act like it’s 1975. Here’s why:

  1. They don’t recognize the decline in cultural Christianity. They refuse to admit the world has changed around them. And they are often angered when someone suggests they make methodological and stylistic changes.
  2. They have many “church rules.” The church rules could be related to attire worn on Sunday, or times of worship, or inconsequential polity issues. The point is they do things like they did 40 years ago, and wonder why those on the outside are not interested in their churches.
  3. They have leaders who have never led in a highly unchurched mission field. Of course, the problem is that the mission field around them is growing increasingly unchurched. Birmingham and Nashville, in that regard, are looking more like Spokane and Boston.
  4. They confuse traditions with truth. That is a dangerous reality. When our church members equate biblical teachings with some of the bylaws and processes of the church, the congregation is in big trouble.
  5. They do outreach the way they’ve always done it. So if Tuesday night visitation was effective in 1975, it should be effective in 2016.
  6. They have significant conflict due to frustration. A number of the leaders and members of these churches can’t understand why and how things have changed so much. They want their old church back, but it’s not coming back. Their frustration can lead to conflict that exacerbates their other problems.
  7. They are very slow to respond. Their internal culture moves at a much slower pace than the community around them. If they do respond to an opportunity, they might be five years late. Or ten. Or twenty.
  8. They have significant facility challenges. Many of these churches were built for one big crowd one day a week one hour a week. They might have old and dated education and recreation facilities as well. Some of them are in worship centers with a capacity multiple times their actual attendance. They can have significant unused space and deferred maintenance. A lot of their funds go to keep the lights on.

Many of you readers are in churches in the Bible Belt. I would love to hear your perspectives. Of course, I am always happy to hear from any of you who take time to read this blog.

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197 Comments

  • I am in the “Bible belt”, and the area in which I live has changed drastically in the 7 years I have lived here. The church climate among SBC churches has become dead. Many of our local pastors were trained in another era and spend more time lamenting over the change rather than engaging the culture. The new generation of pastors have fresh ideas about outreach and fervor, and the only churches that will give them a chance are the ones that are on life support and won’t pull the plug. People wonder why there are so many church plants. This is why! I must say that some pastors can go into a church and see a miracle as they slowly teach the church through the process. May God open the eyes of those who treasure tradition over truth.

  • I was told, and continue to be told, that we are a friendly church. I join less than a year ago, but it took them months to warm up to me. The reason was my fault, according to the pastor, because I was not like the rest. I was “too forward,” and seemed to be “pushing” myself on others, when I commented about the Bible and things I could see that could improve the church. I was too new to be taken seriously. They are friendly, after they warm up to you. They do not see it. I made a comment to my situation and was quickly corrected that the church is warm and friendly to everyone. That is not my experience as a new member full of church members who have been there for decades. The church is declining and is, and the last point stated, only collecting enough money to keep the lights on.

  • Ron Riemar says on

    I have been in ministry for 35 years and most of it has been in the “Bible Belt”. I believe the single most important thing that has led to this decline in the church, and in the communities we serve has the lack of making DISCIPLES who make DISCIPLES. Several decades ago we started counting converts and neglected making disciples, consequently we still have baby Christians, or “False” Christians who have been inoculated with the gospel instead of being Transformed by it’s power! We must get back to keeping the Main Thing, The Main Thing! Jesus told us to “Go and Make Disciples”! That mandate has not changed. It’s not about; the color of the carpet, the “style” of music, or even if the pastor wears skinny jeans, It’s about preaching the Word of God and Making Disciples everywhere we go!

    • First, great comments from a pastor who rides a Harley! Second, you are dead on. When we are consumed as a church with advancing the gospel and reaching the lost–we have little time to bicker and become self-entitled in our thinking. Solid disciples know their job of reaching more disciples! Our culture longs for Truth lived out in front of them–not any new gimmicks. They have enough of them.

  • I pastored a church that was failing in all these areas. Two year in I began to share a vision of change. I also started addressing the poor administration that had gone on for years (i.e. The women’s ministry had separate banking and accounting with no oversight or accountability to the church body).

    Within three months I was accused by the deacons of deceiving them because my wife was married 25 years ago before we met and before she was saved. The church was told to “trust your deacons” and I was fired.

    Afterward one of the deacons, who is a retired detective, filed felony charges against me naming the church as the victim. The church buried their heads in the sand and publicly claim they have no issues with me and the deacon is operating on his own.

    Today, I work for myself. I’m not in ministry and don’t expect to return. I work to support my family and try to pay for attorney’s fees to clear my name.

    Thom, maybe the belt needs to fall off.

  • Richard Wilcox says on

    Sadly very accurate. Perhaps another descriptor would be “blames the pastor for the decline”. Many older churches in these areas are declining while new churches start up with more up to date outreach styles and the older churches cannot understand why the new churches are successful.

    It is hard for older churches to change, much like new wine in an old wineskin.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      You are right, Richard. Sometimes the magic bullet is perceived to be “get another, younger, more relevant pastor,” while the congregation refuses to change.

      • Jim Watson says on

        There are an awful lot of successful newer churches with newer theology that does not align with what the Bible says. We need to be sure that the new wine going into the new wineskin is properly fermented. Otherwise, it may be vinegar that merely looks like wine.

      • Richard Wilcox says on

        yes sir you are right but many also want another older pastor like the one they just blamed. The congregation does not want to take ownership of the issue. It is the same song “someone should do something not what can I/we do”

    • The NEW is novel. Of course a church plant is easier than an overhaul (entirely different set of problems). People will be drawn to something new and novel, but 50 years from now they will be the ones in decline.

  • Watt DeHale says on

    Our Preachers have the highest level of education and seminary training at any time since the Sanhedrin, and it shows…

  • Stephen Budd says on

    I was in three churches in Atlantic Canada over a 12 year period. Many would describe this part of Canada in a similar way. I now pastor in Ontario Canada outside of any Bible Belt distinction. This has been my favorite call as well. You’ve hit the nail on the head Thom.

  • In regard to outreach, they either do it how they’ve always done it, or they don’t do it at all. They just wait for people to come to the services they offer without a way of telling anyone about it. They assume that unchurched people have the same desire to go to church that they do.

  • Jeff Jones says on

    This post is exactly on point. As a 15yr. pastor in the bible belt, I have experienced and seen every point you make. I think the problems are so deep the only way to move forward is start a new church with a new vision or simply get out of religion all together and make a real difference living your Christian life. Do not waste precious time and energy fighting personal preference, tradition and ignorance etc. simply to sustain a religious social outlet for your community. I have no regrets that I broke free!

    • Thom Rainer says on

      I get what you are saying, Jeff. I struggle, though, with moving on beyond the 300,000+ churches that need revitalization.

      • Jeffrey S. Robison says on

        Thank you for your toward the revitalization movement. I am at work on my second revitalization as a senior/lead pastor and it is worth the work.

        It is hard work. The first church had a reputation of running through pastors and had little outward focused anything. When God moved me to my current field of service, after being the longest serving pastor in the church’s 170+ year history, the first church was reconstituted and outward foucused. They give away about 40% in mission and benevolence offerings. Their new pastor and his family are loved. They want to follow Jesus together.

        I am two years into the second church. In the 6th wave of change conflict. It is often a struggle. But the church is out of debt for the first time since 1967. It has baptized more in the last year than the previous decade combined. We have added 50+ families from multiple generations. We are listed in the top 100 mission giving churches in our denomination’s state. Our reputation in the community is changing.

        Most of what Dr. Rainer shares about revitalization, I have experienced.

        I just want to reiterate, as I stand ready for the 7th wave of change conflict if it comes, revitalization iis worth the effort.

      • Thom Rainer says on

        Jeffrey –

        I am thankful for courageous leaders like you.

      • JoAnne Ruble says on

        Amen, Pastor Robison! It does take a strong, courageous and wise man to step up and say we need to change and be willing to take the heat from people who are resistant to it. I wish more pastors would take your example to step up without fear of retribution, no matter the cost for Christ’s Church.

      • Dr. Rainer, I appreciate your comment on the important work of revitalization of churches. I came to my current church 7 years ago. They had to call members to attend service in order to have 25 people to vote per by-laws. The church was a dying SBC church. I came to this believing it was God’s will for me to simply preach the gospel and love the people. The Lord has been gracious to us as our attendance grew to almost 100 in worship, but it was superfical growth. People were just coming to check out the “new” pastor. It didn’t take long for folks to find somewhere else to go when we began implementing new members class and biblical church polity i.e. plurality of elders. Two summers ago we began using your book “I Am a Church Member” in SS and had corporate SS in the auditorium to give our other teachers a 9 week break. We had some push back from the older genreation, but did it anyway. So, this year we wanted to do another 9 week corporate SS using, “I Will.” Well, this caused a major conflict to the point a Sernior Adult teacher rebelled and started a faction among the church. After several weeks of trying to get her to repent we relieved her from her teaching duties, thus losing half of our congregation. I had contemplated resigning and leaving the ministry all together. I was assured by the Lord in my calling and counseled by other pastors to stand on the Word of God. Bringing about changes in a local church is slow, difficult, and often painful. However, the Lord will give grace to persevere.

      • What about all the people who have supported the church with their time and talent and yes, their tithes, and are now reaching a time in life when they need to ministered to? Should they just be pushed aside? Do their needs not matter?

      • That’s a fair question. As I’ve said, I don’t have a quarrel with contemporary worship as such, but I do have a quarrel with an attitude that says, “This the way we’re going to do things, and the senior adults can like it or lump it.” That’s neither wise nor scriptural.

      • Robin Baldwin says on

        Jesus Said… “Go ye therefore (GO is a key word) and make discisples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

        These older folks should be off of milk by now, and should be “out there” ministering to the down trodden, the lost, the wayward, the prodigals, and met with other believers who walk in the Light, and give testimony of what God is doing in the mist of them… AMEN!!!

  • Thom, I serve as the worship pastor of a church in what used to be a thriving Memphis suburb (the attendance was around 350-400). In recent years, the suburb was annexed by the city and the demographics are rapidly changing. Church attendance has dropped to around 215 largely due to members moving to more upscale suburbs. We still aren’t sure how to minister to our new neighbors, but we know we have to do it. We still have a few outdated programs that are showing no fruit. People won’t flock to church for a worship service. Cultural Christianity is a thing of the past. The Jesus Movement ended a long time ago, much to the surprise of a lot of Bible Belt church members. The longer we wait for our outdated programs and incentives to show fruit or expire, the quicker our churches will decline and unfortunately close.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Your last sentence is gold, Logan.

    • Pastor Rick Bradley says on

      Our church is comprised of members over 70. Our music is from hymnal. No current music. Do you find this ad a stumbling lock for church growth in other churches? I suggested we services to try and draw a younger crowd but was shot down.

      • Pastor Rick, as a millenial, please take my word for it that my generation is not drawn to a church based on music style, lights, or programs. We are drawn to churches where the people are authentic, worship is sincere, and nothing is done “just because.” An older congregation that sings hymns out of hymnals sincerely and whose pastor preaches the gospel unapologetically and whose congregants live out their faith unashamedly is much more appealing to me than a 100% contemporary church with apathetic congregants.

      • Joey Taylor says on

        Amen Logan very well said!

      • Another Amen, Logan,

        A significant number of Mega churches are on the outer fringes of the Bible Belt, and what I hear coming out of such churches is not the Gospel. The preachers preach to itching ears. What I see as destroying small churches here in the midst of the Bible Belt is that of churches turning to the same effort. It’s that of getting lost people into the church, instead of preparing God’s children to go into the world and bring the lost into the kingdom. Church is for the worship of God’s people. You pack lost people into a church and it’s no longer a worship center. The decline of today’s church is caused by nothing other than the quenching of the Holy Spirit. Accordingly there is no preaching of repentance to a lost and dying world.

      • Amen and amen! I’m 50, but have ministered to many millenials and nons who could care less about worship style. Yes, some are drawn more to contemporary music. But many more are drawn to authentic faith and an honest life – which, unfortunately, is severely lacking in most established evangelical churches.

      • Is it correct that church founders do not report on the finances of the church with an understanding that the church belongs to him/her?

      • Absolutely Logan! Our church is full of young people, and we sing Psalms and Hymns mostly. Younger people care SO much more about the substance of Christianity than being entertained. Many of them can smell the desperation of being manipulated by “cool” church worship styles and programs. All they need, all any of us need, is Christ.

      • Logan and Pastor Rick,

        Enjoyed both of your thoughts on the issue. I believe Logan has hit the nail on the head with being authentic. However as a millennial myself who is not a fan of the contemporary fad, I would say that sometimes “authentic” is not always enough. Authenticity is wonderful as long as it is done with some type of excellence. Recently, I was involved in a candidate process for an associate pastor position. The church had loving people, but there was no excellence or any “direction” of the church for the future. It was a church where there was no longer any life. I believe that our younger generation requires authenticity, enthusiasm and a obvious direction for the future.

      • Suzanne Burkett says on

        Amen. The Spirit should lead, not a bandleader/comedian in a church “club” with a state of the art sound system, laser lights and a coffee bar. Lead us in worship and praise and prayer. Give us the Gospel, by a godly leader, seeking to save the lost and lead disciples for Christ in the congregation and the community.

      • Absolutely right Logan! It isn’t just about contemporary vs traditional.

      • Paul Howayeck says on

        I think you are relying very heavily on “your” worldview and experience as a millennial. I agree very heavily with you, but as a college pastor in the south, they are very much “drawn” to consumerism christianity. Who has the cool logo? Who has the best music? Who this who that. By and large, to say “worship” is to equate it only with music/music style. This generation is far from being overgeneralized as “not interested in a particular style”. If anything, I think deep down, at least theologically/subliminally they are unknowingly drawn to your answer/my answer and agreement with such. However, the common thing I see among Bible belt college culture are churches that have bought into to entertainment/consumerism of our day and college students flock there, at least for a season until they get bored. Then, they change for the next. (What they dont realize is they are bored because they really long for truth and What God has to say). I also believe that this is mainly a problem not of unchurched/lost people but of Christian millennials. I think most “seekers’, hate to use that word but its popular when discussing this topic, would be more apt to agree with you over against most cultural millennial Christians in the south.

      • As another millennial in full time ministry, I completely agree.

      • stephen burroughs says on

        Amen!! True christians are few

      • Very well said.

      • Kelly Stafford says on

        I am 56 years old, born and raised in the Bible Belt. I am what many would consider a “red neck” and I have no problem with that. I served as a missionary in Paraguay for 5 1/2 years, married a Paraguayan lady and am now back in the Bible Belt pastoring a small Spanish speaking church. I know about different cultures. We don’t have a written “program”. We sing mostly old hymns, yes they are translated into Spanish, but also some choruses. I try to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the services and I try to stay fresh but I will not sacrifice sound doctrine in my preaching! 2 Timothy 4:1-5

      • I would like to believe that to be the case for most but in reality we’ve experienced quite the opposite in east Texas. Who has been growing since opening 10-20 years ago? The churches in our area that have the lights, mist, contemporary sounds. I’ve seen nothing wrong with their teaching either; there’s sound doctrine. So, what’s the answer then? All the article says is what’s wrong, not the steps to change or the “fix it.” The leadership at my church want to change and the church does too, we in the congregation are just asking how?! How does the congregation help the leaders navigate through the unchurched mission field with the resources we currently have and move to pray to the ones we need?

      • Scott,
        I was asked once to serve as a witness to a struggling church who was meeting to discuss some big problems they were having. The man who invited me is one of the true “great” in our local area for church leadership (he founded and pastors a Bible-believing church with approx 2,000 members). This particular church had invited him to preside over their meeting. During the meeting and after sitting quietly for several minutes, listening to the discussion go back and forth he politely interrupted and asked one of the most profound questions I have ever heard…and one that completely perplexed the people who were there. He simply asked “Who exactly do you want to reach”? Then he went on the point out that he hadn’t seen a concensus among the members there for their own particular church goal. He relayed that most churches give the cookie-cutter answer when asked this question but it went a little deeper than what they were seeing at the moment. For example, some churches exist to reach the lost or unchurched. Others purpose is to disciple and grow those who are already believers. Still others focus their vision around being a safe place to raise your family around the love of Christ and other christians. I think it is important for your church to identify “who it wants to reach” and then do that well! You cannot do all of the above because you cannot be all things to all people. Certain groups of people will inevitably be attracted to the church that fits their spiritual needs. My humble advice is that your church prays over the vision that God has given YOUR church and then do that with greatness.

      • Roy OQuinn says on

        Well said. I agree 100%

      • Your comment is so real and refreshing! Thanks

      • Salli Cartledge says on

        I agree with what you said. My church in NE Fla. is So. Baptist,
        medium in size; but growing. We reach out to the community in a number of ways…..all of us. Our biggest effort is a “WALK THRU BETHLEHEM” in our ‘back yard’ . This year is our 6th one and we look forward to it, pray for it, and the weather {!} . But when people visit, they are noticed and greeted, etc. plus we know that Jesus said: ” as you are going, share the gospel, baptizing , etc”
        So that is what we are doing, really. Salli C.

      • Reginald Gabel says on

        Yes we need to reachout to those in our community, saved and unsaved. But having the finest buildings, the best educational space should not be the goal. Remember early church had none of that and the Temple was the finest. Programs, missions trips, buildings and modern music will never get us where the Holy Spirit can. They are good things that can help, but without a spirit filled church, there is nothing. Been in church in the bible belt and med-west and northern states… there are dying churches all over. See more in the South because there are so many. We need to reach out with love, guided by the Holy Spirit if we want to help them. Pointing their faults out is not the way… we all have somekind of fault that could be pointed out. Praying we seek the church that the Holy Spirit in working and Christ is the head, not man.

      • I think you hit the nail on the head, Here is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2: And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
        how many Churches did he seed with this? Gods word doesn’t change, and neither do his methods, Lets get back to good, solid verse by verse , front to back teaching and let the power of the Holy Spirit do His job !

      • Another yes, Logan. I have been trying to make the leadership at my home church understand this very thing for several years. The talk is always about what new program, or how should we change the service, etc. I have said, more times than I can count, that these are non issues. Until we sincerely come before the Lord with the sole intent of worship (and not an attitude of “what is this service going to do for me?), until we invite the Holy Spirit to have our church, there will be nothing that draws people to it. If there is no true worship, there is no point – no matter what time the service starts or what kind of music we sing.

      • Amen and Amen. What some people do not realize is that the word of hymns (whether new like the Getty’s or old like the Wesleys, have incredible meaning and worship. Ranting satisfies the flesh, but not the soul.

      • There are churches even in the Northeast that are growing with younger people that use Elizabethan English (think 1662 BCP, Rite I), hymn books, and pipe organs. However, the priests in those churches preach homilies from the Gospel that have made people squirm in the old wooden, unpadded pews and rattled the stained glass. It can be done.

      • I will echo Logan’s comments as a fellow millennial and worship pastor. Many people in the boomer and silent generations are hung up on fighting for all the wrong things in regards to church. I have also found that the “change is too hard” sentiment runs deep when it comes to church. If we can show people the church isn’t “theirs” but is Christ’s and help them navigate letting Christ have control back of His church, I think it will go a long way to solving some of these issues.

      • I love this comment. We get caught up with being “authentic” which is really the reverse of what worship means. When we strive to be authentic, it means we’re simply telling God what we think. When we come together to experience Christ and worship from the Top-down, the issues of style, etc… fade away.

        well said.

      • Our church has started trying to work in contemporary songs with the service. Roughly ninety five percent of the people just stand there looking at the screens. These are the same people that were singing a few moments earlier to one of the hymns. I agree genuineness is the key. Why else could BBN {radio and internet } survive and thrive for forty years.

    • I moved away from Memphis 21 years ago. The problem you mention – churches refusing to change with their communities – has persisted in that city for a very long time. May I ask what church you serve? I ask for no reason other than curiosity.

    • ” In recent years, the suburb was annexed by the city and the demographics are rapidly changing”

      How so? Has your congregation complained to you about increasing crime and violence? Your sentence makes it sound like your congregation is to blame, but what about this? http://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/cordova-residents-speak-on-crime

    • The biggest things are relationships. If your members drive into the area and leave to their homes, the church will fold. Build up memberships through building strong relationships with individuals. You can do this through a multitude of ways from hosting a neighborhood carnival to hanging out at the local coffee house. I come from a Catholic background, and have seen people come back to church, through relationships with our Franciscan Brothers who knock on doors and minister to people. They don’t charge a dime, dress in brown robes, go barefoot, and build relationships. The Evangelical churches in my area do well at attracting members, too. One church host a carnival every year which draws 5,000 or so members. I helped out this year, and witnessed families – poor, middle class, and upper middle class come out – from all ethnic backgrounds, including Muslim.

    • Robin Baldwin says on

      Preach the Gospel. The churches has stopped preaching the Gospel.
      They are taking a few sentences out of the Bible and talking about that… however in a small group setting for a time of equipping the Saints, the Bible should be explored in dept. However, we ALL need to do the work of an Evangelist, teh Bible teaches us. Jesus did, Peter and the other disciples and apostles did, and finally Paul did, and taught others to do so as well.
      If we have forgotten HOW to preach the gospel, I suggest you go and read the four Gospels again then go and do them.

  • Rita Cameron says on

    I live in the Bible Belt and every word of this article is correct.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Thank you, Rita.

    • Sherry Pendley says on

      I also live in the Bible Belt, but I see a decline in Bible based preaching and preparing believers to be able to carry out the great commission. When did believers start to forget that the same Holy Spirit that is was in believers in the New Testament is in us? I believe most problems in the church and out would be solved with people coming to Christ and having a true life changing experience. The word of God preached by preachers called God and led by the Spirit is more important than what you can and can not wear to church. You give people that Kind of preaching, they will be knocking down the door!

  • Some of those churches took the next generation of members for granted. When children grew up, they were expected to belong to the same church/denomination that their parents and grandparents belonged to, fight the same old battles, and that is not always the case today.

    Ministers/pastors aren’t seen teaching the faith to non-Christians or teaching Christians how to teach the faith to non-Christians. Some Christians wonder if seminaries even taught it.

    Bible-belt church leadership often equals 55+, attended all one’s life, being a yes-man, and a 2nd or 3rd generation member. Go to Silicon Valley and a 25 year old can be a CEO running a venture capital-funded company that is about to go public.

    • Cynthia Hoag says on

      “Some of those churches took the next generation of members for granted. ” Amen. I live in Michigan. When the older members look at the teenagers, they wrongly see future stewards of the parish that they can dump future debt upon. The minute those kids graduate high school, they leave Michigan (not just this church) to go to school and/or find decent-paying jobs. Forever. They don’t look back.

      • Thom Rainer says on

        Thanks, Cynthia.

      • Ann Branch says on

        This is so right. I’m a member of a small country church and this is happening in our church. It’s sad but what do you do to get them back? I’d love to know how to get them back. I’m 62 and have been a member of the same church since I was 7. It scares me when our DS tells us that there may be a time that we will have to close our doors but not by our choice. I’m really looking for good ideas on how to build my church back up. Thanks you.

      • Why do you want them back? I’m not saying this to pick a fight. I ask this because I have seen this exact same thing happen in my own church. I have heard this over and over again. And usually, it has to do with money. Those folks are gone. They probably are not coming back for whatever reason. But why chase them? They are already plugged in somewhere else. If they are not for some reason, then sure try to get them back in church. I have never understood the whole church hopping thing and I really don’t understand the whole chasing old members thing. It doesn’t expand Jesus Christ’s Church. His Kingdom. All it might do is get some money back in the coffers, get some friends back to hang out with, or maybe, the only good reason, but rarely, to bring back someone who has not been in church anywhere since they left. I don’t really have much advice other than to say, it’s not about keeping the doors open. It’s all about increasing His Kingdom. So maybe, it may end up, that the small membership left plugs into another congregation and gets fired up about evangelism. But, this is just what I am thinking here. I would love to hear what Thom’s thoughts are about what I just said. I would seriously like to know if I am just way off base on my thinking. Or if there is any truth to it. These are just my thoughts on the matter.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      On target, Mark

      • Absolutely right on. In looking back, I failed as lead pastor to to see and to minister to to this very same chapter with a church now looking for a way out and up.

        On a lighter note on your ‘belt buckle’ allegory, were you tempted what, other than the buckle – dropped?

      • Great points Mark. To me what churches like Ann’s need to do isn’t to “get the young people back”, so much as go where they are. To “get them back” is to ask them to embrace a cultural form of Christianity that is fading fast. That seems to me to be the point Tom is making in his excellent article. Instead of asking them to enter the “1975 Time Machine” and return to the “Eden” of the past, the church needs to embrace new ways of presenting the gospel that understands the culture in which younger people in.

    • Al Haywood says on

      As a former pastor, I became too involved (relunctantly and against my will) with navigating church politics, family ties, traditions, etc. I finally decided that the only way I could truly minister was through parachurch ministries or secular organizations which gave me freedom to do what needed to be done. I still love the church, but I’ve found the best way to bring people to Jesus is through our personal ministry to them.

      Before I left ministry, I asked my leaders this question (not original with me)… ” ….are you willing to sacrifice the next generation on the altar of your personal preferences?” Unfortunately, they answered a resounding, “yes”! So, so sad.

      • Women have already left since most churches can’t seem to figure out we do not live in 1950. They are pioneering new ministries as the church and effectively ministering helping teaching and bringing the gospel to many. Men too are leaving to do so as well. Church will look different and somehow Gods truth about two or more gathered in his name is still truth!!!

      • More and more women are falling away from churches, because they are feeling trapped. Women of this generation were taught to break the glass ceiling, yet, religion wants to play homemaker. Smart women are leaving because they don’t want to bake for the man.

      • It’s okay for women to spread the gospel but not okay for a woman to take a place behind the pulpit. Which btw your attitude about the woman’s role in life did not come from GODS WORD! You sound like the liberal world. Smart women know that staying home molding the next generation to be godly is by far the most important job appointed to them by God. It is dumb women leaving because they were never in Christ to begin with. They are a rebelious generation!

      • Robin Baldwin says on

        Dear one, your words sounds harsh, why?

        The bible does not exclude women from ministry.
        You may be confusing Elders with the Ephesians 4:11-12 description of equippers in the church of Jesus Christ. This scripture tells us Jesus called some to be, Apostles (missionaries), prophets, (that includes prophetess, like Deborah was a judge over men, and many more were called prophetess), Evangelist (women like Priscilla who was named before her husband’s name in the bible and who taught with Paul, and she also taught Apollos a great evangelist the right way of Jesus, and there are many more), now Pastor, Teacher (this role is both teaching positions) has been equated to Eldership for some reason in the modern day church, but you will not find that in the bible. Elders are men, and they oversee, but they do not do the equipping in the church, but are able to teach. 1 Peter Chapter 5. The bible seems to make the distinction between Elder, Equippers (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher), and Deacons and Deaconess. Must study and read the entire bible to see that God does indeed used both men and women in the front lines of ministry. Even Paul talks about a lady whom he refers to as Elder. However so, 1 Timothy Chapter 3 and 1 Peter Chapter 5 clearly states who is to oversee the church of Jesus, but they are NOT the pastors.
        ELDERS are appointed by the church body, Deacons and Deaconess are appointed by the church body, however those called to serving the church by being equippers, (apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, teachers) are in fact CALLED by Jesus Himself. Therefore NO man should stand in the way of what Jesus has CALLED to service for Him.

        If you want to be a homemaker, that is good, but don’t tell Jesus that He can’t call whom He chooses, which is written in the bible, there are many women called from Old Testament to the New Testament.
        Must read and study the WHOLE WORD of GOD.
        May God’s Word rest in your soul and reasoning dear one.
        Robin

    • We all have opinions. My thought is that we have not had a significant move of the Spirit since the late 70’s. Church is not something organized or promoted, it is the result of a visitation. Rituals only translate into religious legalism without the spirit. A. DiMaio http://www.boldministry.org.

      • Paul Taylor says on

        American indeed need’s a fresh wind blowing across this land, yet it begin’s with each one. I truly believe that the “church” is acting like the people of Judah during the time that Jeremiah prophesied, pollution has crept in because people have quit partaking of the Living Water

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