Churches That Are Dying Have This Common Issue

Each year, across the nation, thousands of churches close their doors.  

The numbers vary from report to report, but most agree that at least 6,000 churches are shutting down each year. 

I have visited many small, dying churches over the years.  And I have found the churches that are dying have a common issue.

Here it is - they are not reaching the generation that is coming behind them.  

I was at a small dying church a few months ago and they had no children in their church.  No babies, no elementary students and no teenagers. 

I thought to myself, "Unless something changes, this church is terminal.  It is just a matter of time until the older generation has passed and the church will have to close its doors."

Take a close look at all the churches that are dying and you will most likely see few, if any, children or teenagers.  

Where there is no crying, the church is dying.

If you want your church to continue to grow and flourish, then you've got to effectively pass the baton to the next generation.  

Here are some practical steps you can take for this...

Realize it is your responsibility to pass the faith to the next generation.  Look what Psalm 78:4-7 says.

"We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments."  

Inspire older generations to see beyond themselves and encourage them to leave a legacy.  We must help the older generations catch a vision for investing in the next generation.  Explain the "why" of reaching the next generation.  Help them see this...

An inheritance is what you leave for the next generation.  A legacy is what you leave in the next generation.

See the difference?   

Everyone one wants to know that their life meant something. That they left the world a better place.  That the next generation grabbed the faith baton you were handing them. 

Give the next generation opportunities to serve and make a difference.  A key way to engage kids and students is to give them opportunities to serve now. Studies show that kids who are involved in serving stick with their faith.  When you invite young people to serve, you are offering them an opportunity to not just be the church of tomorrow, but also the church of today. 

Serving is a major factor in seeing kids grab the faith baton. If we tell kids they have to wait until they are adults to serve, then they may not be in church to serve when they grow up.  They will be simply following what we told them when they were kids.  Sit still and be quiet. You have to be an adult before you can serve. And then as adults we wonder why they are "sitting still and being quiet?"  It's because that's what we told them to do when they were kids.

Target unchurched families with children.  Churches that turn things around and make it, will be churches that are effective at reaching unchurched children and their families.  

Think of ways you can reach today's kids.  Be willing to go outside the box.  Is it more big events that target the unchurched?  Is it getting members excited about inviting their unchurched friends?  If you are going to escape closing your church doors, then you've got to reach people with the Gospel.

When was the last time the baptismal waters were stirred by new believers?  Especially young couples with kiddos.

Be willing to sacrifice your interests and preferences for the interests and preferences of the next generation.  Let's take a biggie - music.  Music is generational.  It makes sense that the older generations are drawn to the songs that were popular when they were growing up.  Hymns to be specific.  

There are some hymns that still work today, but the vast majority don't connect well with today's kids and students.

I was recently at a church for their morning service.  They had a decent number of teens sitting together in the front.  But I noticed that during the worship that none of them sang.  They just sat there.  Is that their fault?  I don't think so.  If the church would use contemporary music that reflects the music genre that they listen to, you would have their attention and they would be singing. 

But for that to happen, the older members of the congregation have to be willing to change. In some churches, they are just not willing to make that jump for the next generation and it very obvious when you take a close look. 

Churches that are growing are churches that have been willing to set aside their preferences and do whatever it takes to pass the faith to their kids and grand-kids. 

Is your church dying?  If so, are you willing to change?  The death knoll is sounding for many churches. Don't let that be your story. 

Your turn.  Why do you think so many churches are dying?  What steps can be taken to revitalize these churches?  Share your thoughts and insight in the comment section below.