5 Ways Even Healthy Churches Can Quickly Spiral Into Dysfunction


Churches are more like organisms than they are organizations. Of course, organizational management is important in churches.

Financials, staff reviews and operations are among the many management activities in the church. Ultimately, however, churches are alive. Biblically, the church is a body. As a functioning organism, the church body is always changing.

Like our own bodies, the church either becomes healthier or less healthy. Churches grow. Or they start dying. Congregations may plateau for a season, but no church remains static in perpetuity.

Like an organism, when church health declines, it typically does so slowly. But there are cases when an otherwise healthy person experiences a sudden deterioration. Healthy churches can also experience a sharp decline in health. There are cases of healthy churches quickly becoming dysfunctional. Below are five ways I've seen churches spiral downward quickly, almost overnight.

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

1. Killer gossip. There is a reason gossip and murder are listed together in Romans 1. Gossip kills. While every church probably has a gossip or two waiting to ambush an unsuspecting soul, killer gossip is a more sinister monster. Killer gossip is more than a Twitter rant or an intentionally misleading question. Killer gossip has as its goal the complete destruction of another person. This kind of gossip destroys families, careers, and churches. It's viral and can spread so quickly through the church body that it leaves a permanent sickness—one ultimately resulting in death.

2. A silent majority during a moment of crisis. A small group (it's usually less than a dozen) can do a lot of damage in any church. Healthy churches can spiral quickly, however, when this small group takes advantage of a crisis in the church to get their way. The crisis magnifies their voice and power. If the silent majority does not speak out against this kind of power play, then a healthy church can become dysfunctional in a short time period.

3. Moral failure of a pastor. Few disasters affect a healthy body like the moral failure of a key leader. Indeed, even the healthiest of churches will likely struggle through the after-effects of a leader's moral failure. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of healthy churches becoming dysfunctional following a moral failure in leadership.

4. Force majeure event. Force majeure is often used as contract language to free both parties from liability or obligation in the event of a major natural disaster, like a hurricane or flood. When these types of events affect entire communities, churches suffer. For example, when a large manufacturing firm left a small town, it meant most of the community was either unemployed or had to move. Every church in the community struggled. Some became dysfunctional quickly.

5. Ignoring evil. Evil is real. And it's not a vague concept. People sin, and sin hurts other people. Not every sinner is a snake, of course. On occasion, however, an evil person enters the body. When you have an unwanted snake in your house, you don't pet it and ask it nicely to leave. You strike it. Don't play games with evil. Get rid of it, or your church could quickly spiral into dysfunction.

The powers of darkness will attack. In fact, healthy churches should expect evil to oppose an expanding gospel work. Most healthy churches are prepared. But no church should get comfortable. Satan's goal is to make healthy churches fall ... quickly. However, God is infinitely greater. Even the most disastrous of situations do not necessarily lead to dysfunction. In fact, it is the body that will determine whether the infection will spread or cause a response that leads to greater health.

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam's heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.

For the original article, visit churchanswers.com.

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

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.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders