Down But not Out

I try not to talk about decline, largely because I prefer to encourage people and churches towards growth. But secondly because I reckon there is a sort of decline monster always hiding down in our collective and individual cellars and it only takes the odd mention to let it loose to wander through the whole house.

Our perception of the decline monster is far bigger than it really is.  So in reality where decline is present it is a bit like a small and slow moving woodworm gently nibbling away at our church and not at all the ravenous wolf that we often imagine.

Here then are three observations on the ‘D’ word.

  •  Pubs, post offices, political parties, shops, cricket clubs, newspapers. These are all declining fast and in a far worse state than the church. We are living in a post-modern world where old and trusted institutions are struggling and to my mind it is quite remarkable how well the church is doing.
  • Most of our ‘declining’ churches are shrinking by a small percentage point. So if you have a congregation of sixty adults and you are declining by three percent (quite a bit) that only means you have got to find three new people a year to be growing.
  • Decline is a bit like global warming; we know we have got to overcome it and we believe we can but we keep putting it off.

The longer we leave it the worse it gets, the sooner we rise up against it the better. It has done considerable damage, not because it is hugely menacing but because we have left it relatively unchecked for so long.

If you develop a ‘culture of invitation’ and just invite one or two people to church a month, you will grow.

Yesterday I visited what had been a very strong and dynamic estate ministry. Sadly, over recent years the church had declined and shrunk but now with help from various sources including LyCiG it is seriously rebuilding. Decline can be reversed, lilies can grow again.

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