Churches of Christ in Decline

If you follow me on Twitter (@jasonbandura), you may have seen this link already.

For the rest of you (after you go find me at Twitter ; ) ), below is an excerpt from an article posted by Michael Hanegan, preacher at the Central Church of Christ in Chandler, Oklahoma.

Here’s a sampling:

The Christian Chronicle recently released an article detailing the specifics about losses both in membership and congregations among Churches of Christ from 2003-Present. Their conclusion? In the last ten years we have lost one out of every sixteen members are have closed three congregations every two weeks for the last ten years. These numbers should be sobering. In the time that I have been at the Central Church of ChristI am personally aware of four congregations that have closed their doors, and know of a number of congregations that are barely hanging on numerically (not to mention other churches that are teetering on the edge of fracture and collapse).

But why?

The comments section on the Chronicle article are fascinating. Allow me to summarize some of what I heard from those who have responded publicly on the Chronicle website.

  • Good! God is finally cleaning house in his church! This is the purge we have needed to keep the church pure and the false teachers away.
  • If we were more evangelistic then we would experience growth like we used to (hear here the 40’s and 50’s).
  • Well if we weren’t so legalistic and addicted to patternism and John Locke we wouldn’t have this problem.
  • This is just terrible. What can we do?

If you wish to see the entire Christian Chronicle article allude to (and its comments section), it can be seen HERE.  The rest of Michael’s reflections can be found HERE.

A number of my most regular readers share with me a heritage in the Churches of Christ.  What do you say?

Why are Churches of Christ across North America in decline?

Please leave your comments below, and let the conversation begin.

(If you desire a greater challenge, hit me over on Twitter and give you reply in 140 characters or less!)

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4 thoughts on “Churches of Christ in Decline

  1. Pingback: Five Marks of a Dying Church | Wandering & Wondering

  2. Division within the “brotherhood” is the primary reason for these declining numbers. Some, in the more extreme segments on both sides, fail to understant that “divided we fall”. In all fairness to both sides, the extreme liberal segment needs to realize that good works and being a good person are important components of being a Christian, but do not replace the need to be fully aware of the teachings of the Bible and how they relate to these issues. On the other side of the spectrum, conservatives and ultraconservatives need to acknowledge and address the fact that many of them are living no different from the Pharasees–pointing fingers and serving God in “name only” as legalism taints their worship. Only through studying the Word AND becoming DOERS of the Word will we fulfill our role as pleasing in God’s sight. Jesus Christ taught the importance of studying God’s Word (Matthew 4:4), but we are warned not to simply be “hearers of the Word” (James 1:22). We must be doers also. Our lifestyle as Christians should reflect that we are grounded in the foundation of Christian teachings while living in our modern times as far as the style/technique of preaching, singing, ministries, etc. While not being “of the world,” we still must be able to relate, live, and meet people with the gospel who live in today’s world. To ineffectively do this, alienates potential converts to Christianity and makes the church we profess to believe in seem out of date and out of touch with real people in the real world.

  3. Michele,

    Thanks for weighing in on this one. A friend of mind used the word “irrelevance” as a one word summary of his take as well. (Certainly, you wrote much more than that, but I see it as a one-word wrap near the end of your comment.)

    So to Michele (and others), are there characteristics unique to the Churches of Christ that exasperate this struggle for relevance, or is this struggle common to:

    Christianity everywhere?
    Christianity in the West?
    Conservative Protestant groups?
    Evangelical groups?
    Some other combination of factors?

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