Again, I don’t believe the church itself will die, but I do think yours might (and ours could, if we’re not careful). Here’s one sure way to kill it:
Change the message, not the method.
When things start to slide in the church, I have seen more than a few churches and even entire denominations decide that the problem is the message. So they start suggesting that maybe there is more than one way to God other than Jesus. They doubt the authority of scripture. They stray from the historic message of Christianity.
I can’t say this strongly enough – that’s a huge mistake. The problem is not the message of Christianity. The problem is the method.
Many of these churches change the message but keep the methods of past generations. They question Jesus while keeping the choir. They change the message while doing kids’ ministry in a creaky basement with mould in the corners. They change the message while offering purposeless pot luck dinners that have little to do with the message of Jesus.
The problem isn’t the message – it’s the method.
The message is eternal. The method is temporal.
The message shouldn’t change. The method should.
Every growing church that is reaching unchurched people that I am personally aware of holds the message sacred but is incredibly innovative in the methods they use. Their services, student ministry, kids’ ministry, programming and even facilities look little like church twenty years ago. The way the message is delivered has changed too. But the message itself? Pretty much bang on orthodox Christianity.
Here’s what I believe: churches that change the message don’t grow because they have nothing to say.
Sometimes I think that for some in this generation, the method has become more sacred than the message.
The best way to kill your church is to change the message and hang on to an outdated method. If you want to grow it, start by trying the opposite:
Change the method, not the message.