Church Decline: Would Anyone Notice if Your Church Disappeared?

Church Decline: Would Anyone Notice if Your Church Disappeared?

October 6, 2014 by

The Mystery Restaurant

There is a small restaurant near our home. It serves… er… ah… food. Its name doesn’t contain any descriptors to let me know what kind of food it does serve.

Occasionally, they post a poorly-made handwritten sign boasting the special of the day. I seem to only see the sign when I don’t want to stop for food.

Don’t get me wrong, I obviously get hungry and I eat out more than I should, so I should stop in. When I drive by though, I rarely see cars in their parking lot. That screams something to me.

Oh wait! They went under. As I drove by this morning, the restaurant had its doors closed and the sign taken down.

“Communities are growing while almost 80 percent of churches are in stagnation or decline.”

Poof. The Restaurant Is Gone

I wonder what’ll go into that location next. I hope they’ll have something I’m looking for.

Wait! This is Church Marketing Sucks—why am I writing about restaurants? The scary truth is that I could be writing about the local church.

Everyday a person from your community drives by your church, looks in and realizes that you are a…er… ah… church. Your sign says so. You probably even look like a church.

But they don’t know what you’re serving. Or if they do, they suspect it’s hatred, intolerance and crazy religious rules. Mmmmm. That’s appetizing, eh?

Church Decline

Communities are growing while almost 80% of churches are in stagnation or decline. Several polls show that less than a quarter of our communities go to church regularly.

According to a Pew study a couple of years ago almost a quarter of our population has no affiliation with any church. And that is increasing every year. I guess that’s why about 4,000 churches are closing their doors every year in America.

Poof. Who Cares?

When a church closes, the community drives by and wonders what’ll go in to the empty building. Hopefully something that they’ll need.

This is the reason for effective church communications. Except for a few churches that want to change the perception of “church,” the community doesn’t know why anyone would want to go into that building they pass daily. They don’t need anything they think you’re offering.

“Our social media bombards people with announcements and religious material the community wouldn’t want.”

Our signs don’t tell them. Our websites are confusing with internal church words and acronyms. And our social media bombards people with announcements and religious material the community wouldn’t want. Or we’re not consistently communicating. Some stuff is great, others are lacking.

Fight Church Decline

Maybe we need to think wildly different. Maybe we need to go in our communities and serve them.  Give them things they actually need. Maybe they’d consider going to a meeting and engaging with a group of kind people who have loved on them for a while. Maybe we need to fix our communications so that they’ll know.

Let’s start doing church communications effectively so we can reach our communities and reverse the crazy numbers of disappearing churches.

Photo by Ryan McGuire.
Post By:

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is an author, speaker, and strategic communication catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention. He’s also the author of Be Known For Something. Mark is also the executive director of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication.
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