North American Denominational Slide

Ed Stetzer shares commentary the newly released National Council of Churches’ Annual Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.  In it, you’ll see a general slide among most of the Top 25 denominations and especially among mainline liberal denominations.  Still, only a handful of denominations have positive membership growth, which in my opinion is a poor reflection of real growth.

What are the most accurate markers of real growth?

What challenges are denominations facing regarding health and growth?

Do those challenges affect denominational churches?

What cultural trends are challenging us?

What organizational challenges are facing us?


5 Responses

  1. Some of the cultural trends that are challenging us as a church that sit heavy on my heart and mind are:

    1. The structure of the family is changing right before our eyes. The nuclear family as we once knew it seems to be diminishing and demands a hard look as to why.

    2. Pluralism is growing fatter by the day in our church bodies and must be addressed head on. It is creating an embracing of personal theology that changes scripture to fit the life.

    3. There must be a return to scripture as the focus of power. Scripture can’t take a back seat to the entertainment value being promoted by many new church plants. Entertainment value is good to draw in the crowd but not if it causes the Word of God to take anything less than center stage.

  2. Steve I would agree somewhat…..however I think that we as “pentecostal-we can-touch-God belivers.” places us in a great moment. Consider blind Bartimaeus and those who drilled him for specific polemical reabuttal.

    Answer: :I was blind…now I see…would you like to be followers too?”

    A testimony trumps an argument any day of the week.

  3. Culture is changing faster than ever before. The larger and heavier the organization is, the slower it adapts. In fact, when adaptation takes place, it lags…still a move behind.

    When I was working in a startup in the middle of a massive culture change. I had come on board a little over a year after the operation had moved outside of a garage. It was operating at $40 million per year. Our saying for ourselves when we were going up against gigantic competitors who had access to limitless resources was, “It’s not a matter of the big beating the small, its a matter of the fast beating the slow.”

    Denominations, outside of other issues of mainline theological drifitngs, are increasingly slow and failing to adapt in ministry training, empowerment of local churches to handle their stuff, and administrative largess. Complicating that, many people who are actually leading our organizations are so far removed from cultural realities, that they are rendered helpless to comprehend the importance of issues we’ve been facing for years already.

  4. The report is more supporting evidence that America is rapidly becoming a post-Christian nation. Of the 25 top denominations, only 6 showed a membership increase. The highest increase was Jehovah Witness, go figure, but only 2.25% increase. Sorry, the COG didn’t even make the list, but the AOG did and showed a whoping .19% increase.

    I don’t have any evidence to support this, but I’d be willing to bet that non-denominational churches are the ones growing. Denominalism smothers local churches by financial demands, and all the time and resources that is used up supporting denomination programs rather than reaching the lost in the commmunity where they exist. In addition, churches belonging to denominations tend to cling to the past and spend the majority of their time keeping traditions that used to work alive.

    Can we be a denomination without being denominational?

  5. I feel that the problem with a denominational slide is serveral reasons.
    1. We preach equality, Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female but we show exclusivity and division to the world. Our mission isn’t about a title or name but accountability to proper spiritual authorities. That can no longer be done through old wine skins.

    2. We also need to understand ourselves and our purpose. When we loose sight of our purpose then our prosperity will dry up. Our prosperity (no earthly riches) is proportionate to our purpose.

    3. We look too much like a fast food restaraunt to the world. We have become so good at taking orders and expecting a cash reward. The ones truly needing God only see the cash cow that the church has become. Theres almost as many Denominations as there are McDonalds.

    4. We love to make a name for ourselves more than for Him. Anointing can take you very far but it is character that keeps you there. We must stop building local bricks and morter building people in the Lord. The people are the church and the abode of God. Know you not that you are the temple of God. The buildings are nice but they only reach those who step inside of it. Missional should be more about the outside world and not what the latest sermon preached behind a pulpit.

    5. If you preach sin you produce sin in your congregations but if you preach Christ then you will produce Christ in your congregations. Some people collect things such as antiques to take them home and polish them up so they can get a vision of what it really looked like when its creator created it. We should be people collectors. Don’t look for their tarnished exterior and assume its value before we take it and help them see the real treasure they are to God.

    6 We preach a getting out of this world soon message to people too much and not a message of getting out to the world. That is the harvest. You can’t reap the harvest if you sit inside all the time. It takes true leadership and workers who are looking to go out and return with a days work in hand instead of sitting on the rows of a building every sunday to saturate themselves in the message without passing it on. If a sponge gets too wet it can no longer hold anything. Teach them to go out and pour themselves into their communities.

    7. Last one, I promise. It has been a sad day to see the govorment of this country do our job for us. They are the ones coming up with programs to supply needs to everyone. (Even that has motives) We are more interested in building structures instead of men. We could be putting so much more out there for the least of these instead of so much into print presses, buildings and programs to socialize. If we invested our abundance instead of the tithe then the world could see a church without greed. We let our possessions posess us. Why not learn to posess our posessions instead. Tithe is only second best to Acts Chapter two and Act chapter four. Abundant giving in the communities. Remember the parable of the woman who gave a penny and the man who gave his tithe? She gave more because it was out of her abundance not her need. What happened to us that we can’t work for an honest days pay instead of expecting tithes to pay our salaries. That mentality has crippled us in the worlds eyes. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be compensated for our labors but be honest here. I have met a lot of Pastors who use he church for a paycheck instead of a purpose. They use condemnation and perversions of the word to coax people into tithing instead of giving the people a vision of propsering the whole community. Your money is to be used for your purpose! We also cripple our brotheren when we teach them the message of a portion like Ananias and Sapphira. We must see what happens before those two fell over dead. Acts 4 happened. They tried to give only their tithe (portion) and not thier obidience and abundance. We cannot allow religious spirits to overtake us as those who crucified Christ. For the love of Money.

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