The global pandemic of 2020 truly took the world, and especially the United States of America, by storm. The pandemic caused a huge economic collapse, the loss of millions of jobs, it infected and took the lives of thousands, and caused a wave of fear to take over the country. Although there is hope that the pandemic is loosening its grip, the consequences of it will be seen for years to come.
One of the biggest results of the pandemic was a massive shift in our normal way of doing business. Quite literally, businesses were completely changed overnight and had to completely flip their way of doing things. Some businesses, like restaurants and coffee shops, were able to make headway by offering curbside pickup, delivery, and takeout. Others however who were not able to easily adapt to social distancing and online commerce, unfortunately, had to shut their doors.
This pandemic has taught us something we should have already known — we must be able to adapt to stay afloat. Fighting against the grain of culture is not a noble thing to do, it is quite foolish. We cannot hold too tightly to “the correct way of doing things” because that method may someday become irrelevant. Changing the way you do things is not a cop-out — it enables you to better leverage and infiltrate the culture.
Just like with the shifts in businesses, churches must be willing to make some changes per the current cultural climate if they want to continue. If they don’t change, they too may need to post “closed” signs on their doors. Here are a few reasons why churches will close their doors in the next decade.
If there was a question about it before, there definitely shouldn’t be one now — churches need an online presence. The argument at one point was that “I don’t need an online presence because my congregation isn’t online.” But the pandemic and closure of thousands of churches have taught us that even those who were at once never online needed to be if they wanted to attend church.
If churches want to thrive in the next decade, they simply have to have a presence online. If the call of the church is to meet people where they are and bring them the news of Jesus Christ, they must meet them where they are: online!
It is vital to have an online presence as a church, but this doesn’t mean just throwing up a makeshift website and creating a Facebook page. Your digital presence shouldn’t be an afterthought or just an additional part of what your church already does. Your digital presence is one of the most important parts of your ministry!
This presence though cannot just exist for the sake of existing, it should be high quality and contribute to the life of your church. The reason this matters so much is because of the shift in attendance from in-person to online. Although physical church attendance is far from over, online church attendance will only increase from here on out. If you still don’t have a live stream or website 10 years from now, you may risk losing out on the bulk of your attendees and even have to shut down as a whole.
This reason is pretty straightforward: your church will die if you don’t continually raise up people in the next generations. This is not meant to be pessimistic, but it is just a reality: if your congregation is made up of entirely those in The Silent Generation & Baby Boomers, the church will pass on with them.
Churches that want to be thriving 10 years from now need to put a heavy focus on the younger generation because they are the future of the church. Millennials and Gen Z are the ones who will be our pastors, leaders, and preachers a decade from now. The younger generation cannot be dismissed or overlooked — they must be embraced and built up as leaders and Christ-followers.
There are individuals like this in every church: the person who comes in right as service starts, sits in the last row, and dips out to avoid talking with anyone. Even if you have the best church ever, there are still people whose community involvement starts and ends at Sunday services.
The church is so much more than a weekly event. The church is a community that is meant to go beyond a 1-hour service. The church is wherever we are! One of the best attributes of being the church is experiencing a godly, encouraging community throughout the week.
A lack of community can often result in a lack of connection, gossip, and miscommunication. Churches may not immediately shut their doors if they don’t focus on community, but they may struggle to maintain a healthy and family-like atmosphere in their church.
This point is a huge one in our modern-day ideologies in church. In the last decade, the focus was on extremely attractive, rock concert-like church services. The goal was to get people in, preach the Gospel, and get them saved. This model of church has made huge waves in the church world and we have seen so many people come to Jesus who never knew Him.
People getting saved is one of the biggest goals of the church as we are called to share the Gospel and invite people into the Kingdom of God. While there is joy in the lost coming home, we must remember that Jesus commissioned us to something extremely important: discipleship.
Yes, it is amazing for someone to come to church and encounter the living God, but we must ask ourselves what we are doing to help people after they are saved. Many people have this salvation experience and stick around for a few weeks at church, but many never come back to church again.
The church must care about discipleship, period. If we don’t, the church will lack the spiritual maturity to grow our communities, go deeper in our faith, and see others come to know Jesus. Without true discipleship, our churches will die in no time.
In point 3, we talked about the dangers of neglecting the younger generations and how it can have a drastic impact on the church. Leadership is another area that we cannot afford to ignore if we want to see our churches thrive and grow.
As a leader, part of your job is to equip and build up other leaders. The idea of “replacing yourself” simply means taking someone under your wing and leadership so that if one day you have to leave leadership for some reason, they can fill in your spot. This method is not just for the practicality of leadership shifts, but to also empower younger leaders to step into their God-given talent. If we want to see our churches thrive, empowering leaders is a must!
The last of our 7 reasons why churches will close their doors in the next decade is an issue the church has had for years: a death grip on tradition. The truth is, people hate change, whether it is in their personal lives or the life of the church. They like the things they like, the methods they use, and the traditions they practice. People just like things the way they are and often resist radical change.
Holding on too tightly to our traditions may lead a church down the road of completely disregarding the current culture and the people in it. Jesus puts it this way in Mark 7:13: “You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
We must be willing to change our methods (not the message) to reach those in our current culture. If we don’t let go of our tightly held traditions, our churches risk closing their doors for good.
While all communities are different, the fact remains that we must think differently about how we do things in the church. Are we focusing on community and discipleship? Are we reaching the younger generations? Do we have a high quality and engaging online presence? Ask yourself these questions and see what your community can do to go deeper, reach more people, and thrive for years to come.
The church is at a decline in this post-pandemic era. How can you overcome this emergency in your church?
Community is greater than competition every single time. How can you emphasize community in your church?