What’re We Gonna Do About It?

Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Part 5

Haggai 1:1-15

First, we covered the problems:

1. Slow Erosion
2. The Past is the Hero
3. The Church Refused to look like the Community
4. The Budget Moved Inwardly
5. The Great Commission Becomes the Great Omission
6. The Preference-Driven Church
7. Pastoral Tenure Decreases
8. The Church Rarely Prayed Together
9. The Church Had No Clear Purpose
10. The Church Obsessed over the Facilities

Now we get to the solutions.

1. Pray

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18

2. Evaluate (vv. 7-8)

3. Admit we have a problem

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” Jonah 2.1-2

4. Plan (cf. Nehemiah)

5. Be willing to change (maybe radically)

  • Abram becomes Abraham
  • Jacob becomes Israel
  • Moses goes from Prince to Shepherd to Deliverer
  • David goes from Shepherd to King
  • Saul becomes Paul

6. Begin to look outside

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

20/20 Vision

Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Part 4

Philippians 1:3-11

The problems, so far:

1. Slow Erosion
2. The Past is the Hero
3. The Church Refused to Look Like the Community
4. The Budget Moved Inwardly
5. The Great Commission becomes the Great Omission
6. The Preference-Driven Church
7. Pastoral Tenure Decreases

Problem #8: The Church Rarely Prayed Together

Praying together leads to vision.
Vision leads to God's priorities.

Proverbs 29:18 KJV
Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepth the law, happy is he.

If our priorities are right (if they are God's) we shouldn't obsess over anything.

Acts 4:31 NIV
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Philippians 4:6 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Problem #9: The Church had no clear purpose.

Luke 19:10 NIV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

The mission of the United Methodist Church:
To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.


We have a history of being confused about this.

"A church without a gospel-centered purpose is no longer a church at all." (Rainer, p. 75)

JAM – 64 children
Trinity Preschool – 79
TLC Children's Place – 91
VBS, Soccer, Kids' Worship, ACE, ROCK

Matthew 19:13-14 NIV
Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on themand pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Problem #10: The Church obsessed over facilities.

Matthew 6:19-21 NIV
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

People love things (and buildings), but God loves people.

Outward, Other and Un-focused

Autopsy of a Deceased Church, part 3

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

Notes from the Bible App:

The problems of the "deceased church"
1. Slow erosion
2. The past is the hero
3. The church refused to look like the community
4. The budget moved inwardly

Problem #5: The Great Commission becomes the Great Omission

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

There are four steps to the Great Commission:
1. Go
2. Make Disciples
3. Baptize
4. Teach

Do we want the church to grow?
Are we willing to do the work that is required for growth?
Are we willing to change how we do things to grow?

"Members of the dying churches really didn't want growth unless that growth met their preferences and allowed them to remain comfortable." (Rainer, p. 44)

Problem #6: The Preference-Driven Church

Membership in the United Methodist Church is a covenant relationship. We all agree to support the church by our

Supporting the church means that we prioritize others.

Are we interested in making disciples and growing the church, or simply taking care of our own desires?

Problem #7: Pastoral Tenure Decreases

"The church would call a new pastor with the hope that the pastor could lead the church back to health. The pastor comes to the church and leads a few changes. The members don't like the changes and resist. The pastor becomes discouraged and leaves. In some cases the pastor was fired." (Rainer, p. 56)