December 6, 2013

What Needs to Change? Attributes of a Declining Church


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I once spoke with a denominational leader who had been personally involved in consulting with about 60 declining churches within his denomination. He shared five attributes that seemed to be present in the declining churches with whom he worked.

attributes of a church

The trends he identified resonate with what we know to be true:

Every church must have a healthy foundation if it is to succeed in the long run.

When a church realizes it’s in serious decline, the tendency can be to focus on surface problems. But you don’t build the Kingdom on trendy song selections, social events and the staff of a Fortune 500 company.

Healthy churches have foundations like this:

1) A strong clarity of mission and vision

2) A concise strategy and a focus on next steps

3) A simple organizational structure

4) An outward focus and connection with the community

5) A strong leader who raises up more leaders

These five foundational aspects of a healthy ministry have to come before a focus on addressing specific environments, systems or tactics. We recommend solidifying these factors before decline is a concern: What worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow.

Is your church healthy enough to withstand change and continue to grow stronger?

Photo Credit: Elliott Brown via Flickr cc

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

One Comment

  • Hello Tony. My name is Scott Thomas and I pastor a small church in the Midwest. I read this blog years ago even before I became a pastor. When I read it I felt it was one of the most insightful blogs about declining churches. If you haven’t already done so, it would be great if you wrote a series of blogs to explain and clarify these insights. There could be a intro blog and a blog explaining each of these attributes. I believe it would help many pastors to better evaluate their churches using these attributes. Even so, it may be helpful to design a plan for evaluation with sheets for notes and conclusions. Thanks for using your insights to help churches get unstuck.


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