This comes from a Protestant Source but I think there is much here that we Orthodox can learn from. Based on statistics I have seen all Churches, regardless of denomination are in decline, so what can we do? I have switched my thinking from quantity to quality, if we build up our people to be strong witnesses of the faith then more will come, I am convinced of that, but the people need to be willing to do the hard work that is required of them.
#2 – Fear of Man – God has called His people to set the world on fire; unfortunately, too many church leaders today waste their time trying to put fires out and make people happy! Scripture pretty much sums it up in Proverbs 29:25! If your first question is always, “what does our biggest giver want” and “not what does God want” you church is stepping into the casket!
#3 – Pride – When a church and/or its leaders are not willing to admit a mistake OR that a method that used to work just doesn’t work anymore…it’s over.
#4 – Staff Abuse – This is something I’ve written about a lot lately…but I will say it over and over again, when a leader cares more about what his staff does than who they are becoming then he will begin to push them to put in 70-80 hour weeks on a consistent basis…and when they begin to show signs of being pushed too hard he will accuses them of being “disloyal” or “not bought in enough to make things happen.” When a leader begins to do this (and other “leaders” sit by passively and watch it happen) then the quality of staff members the church is about to attract and keep will decrease significantly.
(One note on this…many times a pastor/leader who leads like this is lazy! They often wait until the last minute to do things and then expect the entire staff to change and rearrange everything they are doing to accommodate his lack of planning. Changes DO happen in ministry, heck, we had to switch up our entire Easter services at the last minute. BUT…this should be the exception and NOT the norm. AND…when it really is the exception the staff will always respond with passion and excitement because there is a consistent track record of loyalty TOWARDS them!)
#5 – Loss of Focus – When a pastor/leader (or group of leaders) become more obsessed with their “ministry platform” and begin to dive into other “ministry opportunities” and do so with such frequency that they cease to love the people that Jesus has called them to minister to…disaster is right around the corner because the church will become nothing more than a resource for the pastor to promote himself rather than a group of people whom God has brought together and given him responsibility over to love and lead.