When advising pastors and churches concerning their ministries, I have found a few common problems that seem to be reoccurring issues. No church is perfect, and every church can become stronger and more effective but some problems can be avoided.
The first mistake is a failure for a young pastor and church to plan for a future transition in retirement. In the past many godly men put their whole heart into their church ministry with no thought of saving money for the future. By the time a preacher reaches sixty years of age and considers saving for retirement it is too late to make a realistic plan that will suffice. Sadly, there are some men that reach the age of retirement but have no other source of income except for the church. If a pastor remains at the church but is unable to effectively lead the church the ministry will become unproductive.
Churches have a choice of how to prepare for the pastor’s retirement. If the church intends to keep their pastor for many years proper planning can make a big difference. One option when the pastor resigns is for the church to take money from their future budget to fund the pastor’s retirement. The problem with that scenario is the church may be hindered to afford to properly pay the next pastor and the church can suffer as a result. Another course of action could be for the church to do nothing and expect the pastor to take care of himself, which would be uncaring and unethical. A man that has given his life, money and time to a church for a lifetime deserves to be honored for his labor. It would be unconscionable to allow a pastor to suffer in his later years after faithfully serving his church. A third choice would be to ensure a small amount of money is regularly set aside for the retirement of the pastor. Even with a meager salary, saving 5% of the pastor’s salary for forty years could amount to $500,000.00 or much more depending on his salary.
The element of time makes all the difference. To save for only twenty years reduces the savings by 75%. It is not difficult for the church or the pastor to save 5% of the salary and to do it for forty or more years. Often is is simply a lack of forethought. Some kind of plan should be instituted. A failure to plan is a plan to fail.
Another major issue facing most churches today is the aging of its membership. There are several factors contributing to the aging of their congregation. The longer a church exists the greater likelihood the leaders and members of the church age with it. Another factor is fewer young people are getting married and having families. Almost half of Millennials do not believe in the traditional family. Many young people are not getting married until their thirties, if at all. When the nursery does not have babies, it is a sign of an aging church, which eventually leads to the death of the church. A church with no children is in trouble
Churches must stay young and have a continual ministry to children. If this issue is recognized by the leaders of the church a plan should be initiated to reach more young people. The independent Baptist churches have been around since the 1950’s. Some of these churches are seventy years old and many are approaching fifty years old. Unless the church recognizes the problem and develops a plan to reach youth, the church will become stagnant.
There are many additional common problems that many churches face today, such as organization, leadership, and soul-winning. But perhaps the greatest weakness of the church today is a lack of revival and prayer. The church can survive persecution but it is difficult to overcome prosperity. Members have become less dedicated and less committed in recent years. This problem can only be solved when God’s people get on their knees.
More young people are needed to preserve the future of our churches and more youth are needed to enter into the ministry. Young people need to be challenged to surrender to the Lord’s will and parents need to be challenged to encourage their children to follow the Lord. Many Christians today are more concerned about the American dream than the Great Commission. We must build stronger churches and realize the plans we make today determine the future of our churches. Many of our problems are avoidable if we make plans to address them.