If you were to give your congregation a quick health screening, what kind of symptoms would you look for?
Here’s my “Your Church May Have Cancer if …” check list:
- The congregation rarely laughs during worship.
- The congregation would not be missed by their neighbors if it ceased to exist.
- Former members of the congregation who have been away more than ten years would find that little or nothing has changed in the Sunday worship experience since they left.
- The congregation hasn’t received a new member in more than a year.
- It’s rare to have a first-time visitor to worship who is not related to a member.
- The congregation hasn’t baptized a baby in more than two years.
- The congregation hasn’t baptized an adult in more than three years.
- The congregation hasn’t ordained an elder or deacon to office in more than two years.
- The nominating committee cannot find willing and able elders/deacons to present a full slate of qualified officers each year.
- There is no functioning nominating committee.
- The congregation has trouble paying its bills.
- The congregation has been unable to pay the pastor’s salary on time at least once in the past year.
- The congregation has not submitted its annual congregational statistics for more than 2 years.
- The congregation cannot afford a pastor.
- 70% or more of the congregation’s yearly budget goes for building expenses and/or salaries.
- The church building is empty (other than church staff) most of the week.
- The congregation is not able to maintain insurance on the church building.
- The congregation has not added new or updated its technology (sound, video, internet, computers, etc.) in the past three years.
- Most members of the congregation have not asked someone to a church function (including worship) within the past six months.
- Members of the congregation do not have a strong prayer/devotional life.
- The congregation stopped having a “Children’s Moment” because there aren’t any/enough children.
- In order to meet their expenses, the congregation has used not only earnings, but some of the principle, of its endowment during the past year.
- “One or two more deaths” could mean financial crisis for the congregation.
- The demographics of the congregation (age, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic class, etc.) are very different from the neighborhood surrounding the church.
- The congregation seems more interested in “survival” than it does in mission to the community.
This is no more than a check-list or a screening. There may be some really good (and healthy) reasons why one or more of these 25 items would be true of your congregation. The reality is, though, that any one of these items could be a symptom of missional disease in your congregation. See my next post for things to do if you think your church may have a kind of missional “cancer.”