8 Reasons Many Bible Belt Churches Are in Trouble

The buckle appears to be coming off the Bible Belt.
The buckle appears to be wearing off in the Bible Belt. (Flickr )

What a big difference a region makes.

Or used to make.

I served as pastor of four churches, and three of them were in the Bible Belt. One was not. It was my favorite.

The Bible Belt refers to that region of the southeastern and south-central United States where church attendance has been higher historically, and where biblical values are more closely aligned with cultural values.

But the buckle of the Bible Belt is coming off. That means the entire belt will soon fall off. And it is happening rapidly.

There are thousands of churches in the Bible Belt. Sadly, too many of them are not adjusting to the changing realities of the area. They still act like it's 1975. Here's why:

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

1. They don't recognize the decline in cultural Christianity. They refuse to admit the world has changed around them. And they are often angered when someone suggests they make methodological and stylistic changes.

2. They have many "church rules." The church rules could be related to attire worn on Sunday or times of worship or inconsequential polity issues. The point is they do things like they did 40 years ago, and wonder why those on the outside are not interested in their churches.

3. They have leaders who have never led in a highly unchurched mission field. Of course, the problem is that the mission field around them is growing increasingly unchurched. Birmingham and Nashville, in that regard, are looking more like Spokane and Boston.

4. They confuse traditions with truth. That is a dangerous reality. When our church members equate biblical teachings with some of the bylaws and processes of the church, the congregation is in big trouble.

5. They do outreach the way they've always done it. So if Tuesday night visitation was effective in 1975, it should be effective in 2016.

6. They have significant conflict due to frustration. A number of the leaders and members of these churches can't understand why and how things have changed so much. They want their old church back, but it's not coming back. Their frustration can lead to conflict that exacerbates their other problems.

7. They are very slow to respond. Their internal culture moves at a much slower pace than the community around them. If they do respond to an opportunity, they might be five years late. Or 10. Or 20.

8. They have significant facility challenges. Many of these churches were built for one big crowd one day a week one hour a week. They might have old and dated education and recreation facilities as well. Some of them are in worship centers with a capacity multiple times their actual attendance. They can have significant unused space and deferred maintenance. A lot of their funds go to keep the lights on.

Many of you readers are in churches in the Bible Belt. I would love to hear your perspectives. Of course, I am always happy to hear from any of you who take time to read this blog.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders