Six Statements That Can Kill a Church


Words can kill.

Words can kill churches because they often have deadly actions behind them. As we begin this new year, please allow me to share six statements that I have heard from church members whose churches have died.

Please hear that last statement again: These are statements from church members whose churches have already closed their doors. I am convinced these statements were major contributors to the churches’ demise.

  1. “We pay our pastor to do evangelism.” The common meaning behind this statement is that the members have no intentions of sharing their faith. A church with non-evangelistic members is a dying church.
  2. “Without our money, this church would be in trouble.” Ouch! The key word here is “our.” Members with this attitude do not give with an open hand; they perceive the money they give to the church is their money, not God’s money. This tight-fisted non-stewardship, if prevalent in the church, is a sure sign of sickness or death.
  3. “This church is not meeting my needs.” For certain, members’ needs should be met. But have you noticed that, often times, the most needy members are the first to complain and the first to leave? We should certainly care for the needs of the flock, but the attitude of the members should be that of serving instead of being served.
  4. “We pay the salary of the pastor and staff, so they should listen to us.” This deadly statement has two major inflictors of pain. First, the money is treated with a tight fist, as I noted above. Second, the money is used to control leaders. I served in a church where a member made that statement to me frequently. Years after I left, I learned he never gave a dollar to the church.
  5. “We will let the next generation deal with change.” When older generations make this statement, they are resolutely refusing to make necessary and immediate changes. Sadly, the next generations won’t stick around in such a church to make the changes.
  6. “I was here years before the pastor came; I’ll be here years after he’s gone.” This statement is one of power and control rather than service and giving. It’s about out-lasting each pastor to keep the church just the way the member wants it. It’s a statement that was commonly heard in churches that have closed their doors.

I remain an obnoxious optimist about our local congregations. But, sadly, many will die in this year and the next. Most of them will have had members who made these six deadly statements,

I pray your church is not among them.

Posted on January 9, 2017

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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    great article, can we have examples of churches that have died as a result of this statements?

  • Another statement that will kill a church is “we all sin”. Yes that is absolutely true, but the members saying this are justifying the open, blatant sin of people in the church. They have stood up (openly) for church members who are shacking up, embezzling money from the church, partying (and worse). Unsaved people in the community are living holier lives than the church members, so they see no reason to come. It’s a challenge to think about bringing “change” to the church to keep it from dying, when you are constantly just trying to get members SAVED and living for Christ. Spiritually dead people = an already dead church

  • You could probably do another article about “Six Things Churches Do Which Result in Their Demise” … I have one for you. This church in California had about 200 members and was doing fine. In addition, they had a large Chinese congregation, 300 members (separate fellowship) using the facilities later on Sundays, and then sometimes during the week, thus paying rent to the original church. One day in church, during open sharing time, I invited people to participate in a “Walk for Life” or to support me as I walked, benefitting a pro-life maternity home. At the end of the service, an elder confronted me and told me not to “bring politics into the church.” So unborn children are mere “politics.” But about five church members provided support for my walk. Then the church began thinking they could do without the Chinese and terminated the lease. Then they terminated me as well, I was the “caretaker” in exchange for using an apartment on the premises, no remuneration. They seemed to act too independent. Then the pastor was caught stealing prescription drugs from members’ medicine cabinets and he was terminated. People were leaving the church. Then they folded and sold the church to another fellowship. Even that one shut down and now the place is a Messianic Jewish congregation. I praise the Lord for that.

  • Josh Simmons says on

    Thom, always enjoy your articles and your podcasts. As a first-time pastor, it is new to be at the forefront of these questions. I had heard all of these as a member of other churches. Now, I either push through if it is something necessary or forget it. No reason to stir trouble on the little stuff. There is enough big stuff to go around!

  • Thankful we have the word of God and His Spirit to be taught, reproofed, corrected, trained, with all wisdom, in righteousness, so all who are His may present/be presented complete in Christ!

  • Good article, but sad. I must mention in the church I attend, many seniors not only give generously financially, but also with their time, as long as their health allows.

  • I’m currently dealing with 3 of those in my church. It’s my first church so to see that it’s nothing new is encouraging.

    I asked God from the start. “Teach me how to lead them, or send them on their way.”

  • church people with this attitude must really ‘go nuts’ if and when they ever realize that after the rapture…the billions of $$ in holdings,assets,properties, etc. that we’ve hoarded in the interest bearing accounts in churches all across the country, will be used by Satan for the most part no doubt (in some fashion). Now..t.hat’s what’s REALLY obscene in my opinion……not the 6 statements attributed to them . just sayin’. I’m reminded of an Adrian Rogers quote….”it’s what you sow that counts..not what you store in the barn!”

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