Have you ever heard of a Church Shrink Expert? A Church Shrink Consultant? How about a Church De-membership Drive, or a Church Negative Growth Committee?
I don’t know why not. After all, Church Shrink Experts and Church Shrink Consultants are ubiquitous in the modern church. In fact, they control most of the governing bodies of the mainline denominations, leading them step by step to empty pews and cultural irrelevancy.
It took years for me to groom the numbers on earth today, but Church Shrink Experts now control most established protestant denominations, and many Catholic and Orthodox churches.
And they are very effective.
Does anyone care? Consider Churchboy: If your local congregation disappeared today, would anyone in your community care tomorrow? Would anyone in your community even notice?
Ha ha ha ha ha.
Answer honestly Churchboy. The fact of the matter is that most churches on earth today exist primarily for those inside and hardly at all for those outside.
And the numbers of those inside are shrinking.
My servants, I’ve watched the steady decline in numbers of mainline churches with great pride. I am Church Shrinking Expert One, and I must pat myself on the back for my great success in this area.
And, at the risk of reversing my trend I thought I would share three tips for Church Shrinking with you. What spurred my thinking on this was a news story today in The New American entitled, “United Church of Christ Votes to Remove “Heavenly Father” from Bylaws.”
Ha ha ha ha ha.
I love it! Remove Heavenly Father from their earthly, human, manmade bylaws?
The New American reports:
Explaining the change, which reflects a trend toward gender-neutralizing (and in some cases feminizing) God that has been in vogue throughout the denomination for years, UCC spokesperson Barb Powell told World Net Daily:
In the UCC, our language for God, Christ and the Holy Spirit … is preferred to be more open for different expressions of the Trinity. Heavenly Father is just one vision.
Well, yes, “Heavenly Father” is just one vision. Never mind that it is God’s vision. I suppose when one decides to make God politically correct anything is possible. If scripture is to be ignored another equally valid vision is that God is a unicorn. Even better, a bi-sexual unicorn with two mommies.
No, really, why not??
But what I like best is the quote from David Runnion-Bareford of Biblical Witness Fellowship (BWF), a group formed to battle “UCC’s theological surrender to the moral and spiritual confusion of contemporary culture.”
He called the latest compromise by the church, which is one of the most rapidly shrinking Protestant denominations in America, “a powerful confession by the Synod of the UCC that, having rebelled against the word of God, is on sinking sand — with our members, churches, historic witness, and identity in Christ washing away before our eyes.”
Sorry Dave, you are losing this battle. And the great swooshing sound of church members washing away before your eyes illustrates my first, and most important Church Shrinking tip:
Tip 1: Be Relevant; mold scripture to modern culture.
Get it? It is the Gospel of Modern Niceness. Modern political correctness demands tolerant niceness to all. We all learn that it’s nice to be nice to the nice, and the only one’s who aren’t nice are those meanies who believe the Bible to be God the Father’s (sorry, UCC) word on earth.
Does gender specific language offend? Then just change it! Be relevant to those to whom (and to those two, whom) such language is a barrier to communion with whatever God you believe you worship.
But the Niceness doesn’t end at gender nonsense, of course. Niceness leads to denominational endorsement of same-sex marriage, ordination of homosexual ministers, and implicit condoning all manner of sexual impropriety that now imposes as the contemporary norm. Consider an elaboration of this tip from John Richardson, who has studied Shrinkology in modern churches:
Contemporary relevance is a fundamental tool in denominational shrinkage. Not only does it deter people from going to your churches, it actually camouflages the fact that they are not.
And, as Richardson states, here is the great lie that goes unnoticed until all the pews are empty:
But of course nobody will commit themselves to a church which is preaching what they (the non-churchgoer) already practise. Sundays are for resting, in bed or with family and friends, not sitting in uncomfortable buildings … watching badly performed rituals and listening to the blessed thoughts of the half-unbelieving and half-trained, though well-intentioned, minister.
I couldn’t have said it any better. And it just amazes me how many Christian denominations, in an effort to grow abandon the very reason for church in the first place: scripturally sound doctrine that drives a self-controlled disciplined lifestyle, set apart from the world, being transformed by the renewing of the mind to God’s thoughts to be more like Jesus daily.
Blechhhh! I can’t believe I even wrote that.
Tip 2: Drop Your Demands
Related to being relevant in modern culture, dropping troublesome demands on a sinful lifestyle and stressing holiness is a sure-fire church shrinker. As Richardson notes:
[M]aintaining the demands of orthodox belief generally doesn’t sit well with denominational shrinkage. A broad church is, by and large, a leaky church. If you want to lose the average person from your church then, paradoxically, you must declare as ‘faith’ what the average person already finds it easy and comfortable to believe. Never mention the afterlife except in terms of cosy reassurance about the love of God. Specifically, never mention hell – except when assuring people that a loving God could not possibly send anyone to such an awful place invented by vindictive humans etc. (It may be necessary to keep off the Bible in general or Jesus’ own words in particular at this point.)
Yes, make your church one of Easy Believism. Do not require repentance, a holy lifestyle, adherence to scripture in matters of morals and behavior, or any of the other things that Jesus tends to like. And never, never, mention H-E-L-L.
Tip 3: Never mention or stress mission.
Jesus gave a Great Commission that scared the socks off me when I first heard it. Go into all the world . . . making disciples . . . of all nations. Each phrase chilled my already cold soul as I realized what would happen to my kingdom once the Great Commissioners got moving.
Fortunately in the modern church today, particularly in Western cultures, there is virtually no Great Commissioning going on. Most Christians go through their entire lives without making one disciple!
I know, my servants, I know. It’s unbelievable!
But it’s true. Churches with members that don’t reach out to friends, neighbors, co-workers, and their surrounding community with Good Deeds and Good News will only shrink away to oblivion. It is inevitable; it is happening now. As Richardson concludes, quoting a book The Churching of America 1776–1990 by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark:
[T]o the degree that denominations rejected traditional doctrines and ceased to make serious demands on their followers, they ceased to prosper. The churching of America was accomplished by aggressive churches committed to vivid otherworldliness.
Yes, that’s true to an extent. But the fact is that all churches are committed to “otherworldliness.” But because the “otherworldliness” is not “vivid” a shrinking number are aggressively committed to God’s “other world” while a growing number are aggressively committed to my “other world.”
Lack of vividity fuels church growth my way.