• Brandon Sutton

Five major changes most churches need to make

The message is clear. Churches must change or die. We don’t change our message, but we must change our methods. We cannot remain neutral. To do so is to choose death. So, what changes must a church make in order to see new life? Let me suggest five.

1. Reform membership. The first major change I made at my church was membership. When I came, anyone who attended regularly (how often wasn’t specified) and gave monetarily (again, not specified) was considered an active member. There were no real, biblical requirements for membership. This had to change. I had to know who my members were since I will be held accountable for them before God (Hebrews 13:17). We established who our members were, made a process for new member inclusion, and we implemented membership qualifications and expectations. This has made a huge impact on our church’s health.

2. Reform Sunday worship. Declining churches usually have bad Sunday ministries. The atmosphere is awkward. The songs are challenging. The ceremonies are irrelevant and the traditions are stumbling blocks. You must reform worship if your church is going to thrive again. Get rid of the traditions nobody knows, except a select few. Simplify your service. Strive for excellence. Make sure you’re preaching, reading, praying, singing and seeing (the ordinances) the Word of God. Center your worship on the Triune God with Christ at the center. But, as for everything else that’s a stumbling block to the gospel, slowly get rid of it. Bottom line, make your services biblical and appealing. The only thing that should make someone uncomfortable about your services is the presence of a holy God and the preaching of the Word of God.

3. Install godly leaders. The church is in the condition it’s in for a reason, and it probably has a lot to do with the leaders. Most likely, those leaders will need to be reformed or replaced. You can’t do this all at once, but it is absolutely necessary that a church has gospel centered, forward looking leaders if it is to survive and thrive (see 2nd Samuel 23:1-4).

4. Build a culture of outreach. Most churches decline because all they think about is themselves. We need to start looking outwardly. Do an Invite Your One. You can search for it at Make sure you’re preaching/teaching evangelistically and encouraging your people to be an outwardly focused church. This takes time. It’s not a policy change. This is cultural change and it’s much harder, but once it begins to happen, it bears a lot fruit. People will start inviting. Ministries will begin meeting needs. God will start saving souls again in your church!

5. Update the building. Our church had a lot of deferred maintenance. Thanks be to God, in the last two years, we’ve completely renovated our building. It looks so much better, and it’s much more appealing to new comers. Declining churches have declining facilities. They need to be updated. Don’t crush the past, but don’t live in it either. Find a way to honor the past at your church and renew its look. Make it warm and inviting so people will want to come back. You want people’s Sunday morning experience to be exceptional. The building is a part of that.

These aren’t the only five major changes, but they are five changes that must be made. Once you get these changes done, ministry will still be tough, but it will be a lot more enjoyable and fruitful.

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