10 Reasons Why Churches Stall

One of the most exciting, but difficult aspects of leading a growing new church is keeping the momentum of our mission going at full throttle. It’s a rare church that keeps momentum and energy going at a strong, healthy pace. In his article, “A hole in the fuel tank?” Marcus Honeysett gives ten reasons why churches stall.

Tim Chester summarizes the article like this:

1. The church forgets who we are and what we are for … When we forget that we are the community of disciples for declaring God’s greatness and making disciples, mission quickly becomes just one among many activities rather than the defining vision of who we are as a community.

2. The majority of believers are no longer thrilled with the Lord and what he is doing in their lives. When questions like ‘What is God doing with you at the moment?’ cease to be common currency, it is a sure sign of creeping spiritual mediocrity.

3. … In my view, the single biggest cause of stalled churches…is the belief that material comfort can be normative for Christians. It is the opposite of radical commitment to Christ.

4. When [Christians]  see church as one among many leisure activities, usually low down the priority list. They are unlikely to see the Christian community as God’s great hope for the world and unlikely to put commitment above self-interest.

5. … Where people take no personal responsibility for their own spiritual growth a stalled church becomes more likely.

6. … When preaching, teaching and Bible study become ends in themselves rather than means to an end, something is badly wrong.

7. A church becomes afraid to ask radical questions … The danger is that people start to equate serving the church with living out the gospel. Few churches regularly evaluate every aspect of church life against their core vision.

8. Confusing Christian activities with discipleship …

9. Not understanding how to release and encourage everyone in the church to use their spiritual gifts for the building up of the church … There are two types of DNA in churches. One type of church says ‘we exist to have our personal spiritual needs met’, the other ‘we exist to impact our locality and the world with the gospel of the grace of God in Christ’. The first type is a stalled church.

10. … No church was stalled at the point that it was founded. At the beginning all churches were adventures in faith and daring risk for God. No one actively decided for comfort over risk, but at some point the mindset shifted from uncomfortable faith and daring passion for the Lord to comfortable mediocrity … The mantra of the maintenance mindset is ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. But just like buying shoes for growing children, if structures don’t take account of future growth then fellowships end up stunted and deformed.

Which of these have you seen in yourself? Which of these concern you as you think about Second Mile?

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  1. #1 by altonwoods on July 28, 2010 - 7:15 am

    Marcus is spot on with these observations, the church really can’t serve two masters…It must choose to be more passionate about seeking the lost and sharing Jesus than it is about being a social outlet.

  2. #2 by Brian Frahm on July 28, 2010 - 11:53 am

    Great list… #3 personally, #1 and #5 to me are risks that not only Second Mile faces, but many in evangelical circles are facing…

  3. #3 by Jeffery on July 28, 2010 - 1:31 pm

    Some keen observations here, at least for North American versions of church communities. I am not exactly sure what is intended by No. 3, however. The premise could be construed to be implicitly Gnostic: material things = Bad, as opposed to sin-laden, corrupted things = Bad. There is a huge difference here since creation is GOOD and God does bless us materially, not just “spiritually.”

    No. 8 is a challenge: busyness does NOT equal effective discipleship, just as “getting credits” does NOT equal being educated.
    Addressing medicority is important as well. As Gilson noted, the Lord requires BOTH Piety AND Competance.

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