13 reasons why your church stopped growing

13 Reasons Your Church Has Stopped Growing

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership Leave a Comment

Every church wants to grow, but studies show that the majority of churches in the United States are either stagnant or declining.

It’s not unusual for church growth to level off at times, especially if you’ve experienced a period of rapid growth. However, the problem is usually something much different.

From your church’s culture to changing times, there are a variety of factors affecting your how your church grows. Adapting to what people need while never losing sight of the real purpose of your church is how to continue growing.

1. The Rise Of Livestreaming

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many churches into a more modern approach to services. With churches forced to close, they had to resort to livestreaming their services. While that has actually boosted attendance for many churches, it doesn’t do much for growing in-church attendance.

On its own, livestreaming isn’t a bad thing. But, for people who aren’t feeling engaged enough in church, they may have sought out other options online. It’s not that people aren’t interested in faith anymore. It’s just that there are so many options available.

In fact, a person could attend a different church every week. Of course, this isn’t necessarily helping your church to grow.

To boost growth, focus on creating highly engaging online and in-person services. Give your online attendees a reason to keep coming back. While your in-church attendance might not seem as high, remember that your online members count just as much.

2. No Way To Connect Online

It’s the digital age. If you want to grow your church, you have to be online too, even if you feel strongly against it. It’s how many people are finding new churches. Instead of just dropping in, they go online to get a feel for a potential new church and even read reviews from others.

If there’s no way to connect with your church online, new visitors may not even know you exist. Of course, it’s not just about new visitors, though.

Without a way to stay connected throughout the week, your members might not feel engaged enough. They may gradually stop attending a little at a time until you actually see your numbers dwindling.

The reason is they’re discovering churches with thriving online communities that keep them connected all week. While online church doesn’t replace in-person connections, it does complement the ministry that you’re doing in person and expands your church’s reach.

3. Too Much Discontent

Infighting never makes people feel welcome. Imagine visiting a friend’s house only to have to deal with their family constantly fighting while you’re there. You probably wouldn’t want to come back, right?

If you’re dealing with discontent among your church staff and members, this could be the main reason your church has stopped growing. Instead of walking into a friendly community, new visitors walk into a toxic environment filled with people who have lost their way.

Sometimes, you have to focus on healing the discontent within your church before you can focus on growth again. Once the problems are solved and everyone’s focused back on ministry and your mission, you’ll see more people coming in and your members will start inviting people again.

4. Everything’s About The Church

This one might seem confusing at first. However, if you’ve ever went to a timeshare pitch to get a free meal or weekend getaway, you’ll know exactly what this means.

Take a moment to see if your church is more focused on growth, finances and building the next megachurch. Growth is great and finances are important, but if you’ve lost sight of the ministry aspect, it could be turning people away.

Sometimes, churches get so focused on growth that sermons become marketing pitches. The need for donations is more about making the church bigger and fancier over helping the community and ministering to those in need.

Often, if you go back to what’s most important, you’ll see that’s what actually made your church grow to begin with. It’ll also be what helps your church restart that growth.

5. You Haven’t Stepped Into The Present

When was the last time you updated anything about your church? Are your pews falling apart? Has the carpet faded? Is the music the same as it was 50 years ago?

An outdated look isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it could very well signal that you’re focused far more on ministry than aesthetics, which is good. However, people also want to attend a church that doesn’t look like it might fall down around them. A few simple upgrades help, especially adding technology such as a sound system.

Another thing you have to consider is your online presence. The modern way of connecting with people and growing your church is with a church website, or a combination of a website and social media.

Take a look at what other churches around you are doing. You have to embrace newer trends in order to continue attracting people. While you don’t have to let go of your values, you do have to change throughout the years.

6. No Community Outreach

People don’t just go to church to worship. They go to make lasting relationships and learn how to do good in the world. This all starts with your church serving as an example.

If you don’t have any community outreach, people see this as your church not being interested in anything but the church. Plus, if you’re not reaching out to the community, you’re missing out on a massive growth opportunity.

Your church has stopped growing because you’ve limited yourself to just your current members. And, when new visitors come in, they notice this.

Focus on creating community outreach programs. Tithe.ly lists 10 great outreach ideas that are simple and fun. Pushpay also lists 30 ideas sorted by time and cost.

7. All Online Content Is About Marketing

If you already have an online presence, that’s great! However, take a look at the content you’re posting. How much of it is strictly marketing?

For example, how many of your social media posts are just invites to come to church or an event? How many blog posts are just about why people should come to your church?

You should definitely include content like that as part of your church’s marketing strategy, but make that a small percentage. Instead, create useful content that teaches, motivates and resonates. This is the type of content people connect with. This is what makes them want to learn more and share the content with others.

Start boosting your church’s growth again by creating a solid social media strategy and blogging strategy.

8. No Chance To Build Relationships

As a direct result of numerous churches and little to no community outreach, your members may not be able to build new relationships. Yes, they should focus on each other as a church family. However, if your family never reaches out to others, how can it grow?

It’s easy to get complacent. Everyone’s happy together. All their friends and family are already members. Suddenly, no one’s inviting anyone else. Any friends that aren’t members are members of other local churches.

The solution is to start expanding your church’s reach. Set up community services to introduce your members to more unchurched people. Help them establish new relationships and friendships. Host community events. You can even create online communities for people to come together worldwide.

9. No Opportunities To Get Involved

If you ask most churches about volunteers, you’d probably hear the same answer – “we need more.” Believe it or not, people actually do want to get involved. Often, the problem boils down to not having enough opportunities people relate to and expecting too much of a time committment.

How does this relate to growth? If people don’t feel like they can be involved in the church instead of just sitting there on Sundays, they stop coming. The result is your church has stopped growing.

But, all of these problems are easily solved. Get more volunteers and grow your church at the same time. First, ask members what’s important to them. Then, start creating opportunities that resonate with your members and offer both small and large opportunities. Even if someone only has 30 minutes a week to spare, let them help out.

10. Difficulty Attracting Younger Members

Has your church family started getting older? It happens. But, if you don’t attract younger members, your church family starts to disappear on you. Seniors may have to move in with relatives in another city or just aren’t able to attend any more due to physical ailments.

This is also another reason to adapt your church to changing times. An outdated approach won’t attract younger members. Plus, some of your older members may prefer something different as well.

Today, charismatic churches are the ones seeing the most growth. They’re more interactive, engaging and welcoming. These churches embrace new things without eliminating the best parts of what used to work.

A compromise helps you keep your church growing without losing the growth you already have.

11. Getting Too Focused On The Negative

The world is filled with doom and gloom. Church is a place to escape that. It’s a place to find hope, guidance and the strength to keep fighting against evil and temptation every day.

However, it’s easy to give in to the negative. In order to keep your church family safe, you might preach more about what’s wrong versus what’s right. Instead of feeling hopeful, members go home feeling like there’s no hope. As a result, they might not even feel like church is helping them anymore.

Even if they do keep attending, their own negative view of the world doesn’t attract others. Use your sermons, social media and website to foster a sense of hope. By having hope and faith, people become stronger, happier and closer together.

12. You’re Not Creating Leaders

The church’s job is to educate, inspire and train leaders. Often, the last part falls to the wayside. People learn about God’s word and feel inspired. Yet, they might not know what to do next.

Church staff have the ability to help create leaders out of their church members. These leaders spread the word, head volunteer projects, help with ministry and know how to get others interested in attending.

By creating leaders, you’ll have more people out in your community and online reaching out to the unchurched. It takes time to train and equip your leaders, but when you do, your reach expands and your church grows.

13. Pastor Burnout

Has your pastor lost their passion? Your church growth has stopped the moment your pastor starts to burnout. Even if your numbers don’t show yet, it’s happening.

Your pastor helps bring your church family together. It’s their passion and words that inspire others and help guide them. While it takes the pastor, church staff and members to make a church family, a lot rides on the pastor’s shoulders.

It’s easy for them to get discouraged, which affects members and makes them stop attending. Encourage your pastor to take a break when needed and to delegate tasks to get more out of their limited time. Most importantly, just be supportive to help your pastor find their passion again.

If your church has stopped growing, a great way to boost growth again is by creating a highly engaging church website. Not sure where to start? See how our web design services help you expand your church’s reach.

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