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You know you have a discipleship crisis on your hands when…

August 9, 2011

Here are some recent stats from the Barna Research group:

  • 4,000 churches will close this year
  • Only 1,500 churches will successfully launch (that’s an 80% failure rate)
  • Only 15% of American churches are growing
  • Of those that are growing, only 2.3% are growing through conversion. The rest is transfer growth.
  • Just half of the 200,000 viable churches in America added even 1 new member through conversion last year
  •  This is chasing away 1,500 pastors from ministry each month
17 Comments leave one →
  1. joncshirley permalink
    August 9, 2011 3:26 pm

    Reposting this. Fantastic Mike. Thanks man. Blessings to you and Sally. Looking forward to being together in September!

  2. August 9, 2011 3:31 pm

    These are downright frightening stats. If someone were to tell me that I am sick, I was loosing weight drastically, all my growth had stopped, I wasn’t producing new cells and the cells I had were being destroyed…I would stop EVERYTHING to figure out what it was. I would question every food choice, exercise choice, everything that causes stress to find out how to fix it.

    The body is sick. But Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle which means not only is He building His church, He is healing Her too.

    Love what you are doing Mike! Time for radical obedience to the King. Radical discipleship.

  3. August 9, 2011 4:20 pm

    “This is chasing away 1,500 pastors from ministry each month”

    It’s interesting the Barna folks state it that way, as if pastors are the victims. In my experience churches often tank because of leaders who are ineffective, biblically unqualified, water down/abandon the gospel, etc..

  4. August 9, 2011 4:59 pm

    mmmm… maybe the church needs to change. maybe the church of tomorrow will not look like the church of today and challenge GOD’s people in a whole new way. this yells for change(a bad word in most churches). something new, well not new in GOD’s eyes but new for us, taking the dead bones of the church and replacing them with something that has life? something that is of GOD but dose not look like church as we know it? o.0… there some encouragement for a whole lot of discouraging numbers.

  5. August 9, 2011 9:47 pm

    MIke Steve Hollinghurst Sheffield Centre – a very powerful distillation of the Barna figures, thanks – working on them myself – sadly not surprised – and yes love the Barna take on ‘chasing pastors away’ Olson has been suggesting low attendance way under surveys for a while – so interesting if Barna puts in 15% – real issue if this wakes up the US church this is really good – there is still so much potential there – but how will they repsond? more of the same mega-church thinking or a radical and necessary re-think?

  6. August 9, 2011 10:27 pm

    “They say the Church has turned its back on God… But I want you to know they’re wrong. The Church in America is doing wonderfully–walking in holiness; walking in sanctity. And when it stumbles, it quickly repents and comes back with even greater devotion and joy toward God! You say, ‘Brother Paul, what world are you living in? That is not the Church in America!’ Yes it is! The only problem is: you’re calling something ‘The Church’ that’s not the Church.” -Paul Washer

    A discipleship crisis, indeed.

  7. chris permalink
    August 10, 2011 3:42 am

    when looking for the positive in the state of the church today…perhaps God is sending workers into the harvest field..if they are evangelizing/discipling after leaving the corp church. pastors must hear the Spirit leading to equip and release believers to form non-traditional church gatherings based on simplicity of the Gospel.

    …perhaps if we humble ourselves and allow God to bring the church to passionate love and willingness to die to ourselves…ths decline could be turned around.

  8. August 10, 2011 2:57 pm

    Thanks for this, Mike. I wonder if a large part of the root cause is that we tend to make church renewal our starting point instead of mission. Discipleship is essential for mission, I think, but it is not essential for church renewal.

  9. August 10, 2011 5:58 pm

    Might not be a “Discipleship” crises. More like a “Corporation” crises.

    Hmmm? “4,000 churches will close this year.”

    Was wondering…
    Which “church” are we talking about?

    1 – “The Church of God?”
    Where Jesus is the head of the body,
    (The ekklesia, the called out one’s), The Church? 🙂

    2 – the church of man?
    Where someone goes to a secular organization, IRS, fills out a form, a 501 (c) 3,
    and asks for permission to be called a church. Where is that in the Bible?

    If and when approved – they become a Gov’t approved, Gov’t inspected,
    501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax $ deductible, Religious $ Corporation? 😦

    Did Jesus shed “His Blood” for – An organization? An institution?
    A building? A denomination? Or a $ Corporation?

    NOPE! – Jesus shed His Blood for His Church to purchase His People. Acts 20:28

    Should “Disciples of Christ” call a Corporation – “The Church of God?” 😉

    NOPE! Seems, in the Bible, “The Church” The Ekklesia, the called out one’s,
    refers to individual’s, an assembly, people who are now the house of God. 😉

    Don’t think – 4,000 churches, ekklesia, called out one’s, are closing this year.

    Do think – 4,000 501 (c) 3, tax $ deductible, $ Corporations are closing this year.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    • August 12, 2011 8:27 pm

      And with Amos’ post he unwittingly namechecks two (or more) denominations…

      Should “Disciples of Christ” call a Corporation – “The Church of God?”

      I think that alone answers his rhetorical question.

  10. August 12, 2011 8:29 pm

    Should “Disciples of Christ” call a Corporation – “The Church of God?”

    I’m not sure if Amos intentionally namechecked two denominations (corporations) to make his point, but that does make a point.

  11. August 13, 2011 3:16 pm

    jesusfishfoode – Mike Stidham

    Wow -You guys are good…

    posting similar comments – moments apart – cool… 😉

    Never noticed that before – I namechecked two denominations…

    Thanks for pointing that out. 😉

  12. August 13, 2011 5:34 pm

    A glitch in signing in. Jesusfishfood and I are the same guy.


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