Why More and More Churches are Closing Their Doors

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

More and more churches are closing their doors, but why? Why are more churches dying than ever before?

Churches Are Dying

More and more churches are closing their doors, but why? Why are more churches dying than ever before? Jesus said that He will build His church and the gates of hell or death will not prevail against it. That is, not even death can stop the church that Jesus has built and is still building today, but then why are so many churches closing? Recent statistics show that in 2014: 4,000 churches opened and 3,700 churches closed but in 2019: 3,000 churches opened and 4,500 churches closed, so today, more churches are closing than new churches are being opened. There are very good reasons for this. Part of it is that most churches are no longer preaching the gospel. Today, they want you to have your “best life now,” but if this is the best life now, they’re going to the wrong place! Heaven is ultimately the very best place now and forever, but churches today promise families wealth, prosperity and health. Jesus promise suffering, scorn, ridicule and persecution. Who’s right? It is Jesus of course. Churches are like people; they are born, they live and they die, but many churches will still be in existence when Jesus returns.

3 Church Pillars

There are three main pillars that must be found in churches today, and not, that may be the reason many of them are closing. The three pillars include baptism, the Lord’s Supper and church discipline. If any of these three are missing, that church is not sound and may not survive very long. Years ago, I pastored a church that refused discipline and they also were rebellious toward church pastors and elders. They didn’t want to discipline anyone because they were afraid of losing that member, and today, that church that was over a century old is shuttered. Church discipline is a central tenant of the church Jesus’ built.

Jesus’ Church

Matthew 16:18 is the very first mention of the “church” that Jesus would build. It is His church by the way. The Apostle Paul says that “God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you” (1 Cor 5:13). If the church member is sinning and is left to sin without discipline, it will infect the whole church, just like leaven spreads throughout the entire lump of bread. Paul tells us, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:6-7). If church discipline were not important and necessary, Paul would not have spent an entire chapter on it and Jesus would never have mentioned His model for church discipline in Matthew 18:15-20.

Another Gospel

So often, preachers will avoid the subjects of sanctification, holiness, repentance and other pillars of the faith. They want to soften or water down the gospel so more will come to their church. They are afraid to offend people by telling them they’re sinners, so the pulpits preach real-good, feel-good messages that don’t have application to the Christian’s daily walk. It is often called “easy believism” but that kind of message doesn’t change hearts. We must accept the fact that the gospel offends. The Word of God cuts to the bone and marrow, but it cuts in order to heal. Jesus spoke hard words to hard hearts (i.e. Luke 11, 12) because soft words would have no effect, so we must preach the whole counsel of God or you end up with half a gospel, which is no gospel at all. The Word of God comforts the afflicted, but it afflicts the comfortable.

Entertaining Instead of Worship

The church never dictates what they should teach in the Bible; the Bible dictates what the church should teach from the Bible. Lately, the church has become an entertainment club more than the church Jesus built. One church I was asked to attend passed out ear plugs as I came into the building. That was my first warning that this church was interested more in entertaining people to keep them there instead of preaching the whole gospel of repentance and faith (Mark 1:15). They wanted to build the membership by programs, not realizing it is not their church; it is Jesus’. God is the One Who gives increase in the church, not men (Acts 2:47). The music was so loud that some people still covered their ears because it hurt. What a shame. They desire to fill the parking lot instead of filling heaven!Leading Worship Music at Church Service

No Great Commission

Jesus commanded the disciples to go into all the world to preach the gospel (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), but when churches never leave their church to go out to reach the lost, the church will eventually die. You can’t even spell the word gospel with “go” and go we must. People won’t be coming to churches, so churches must be coming to people. Not to build the church but to be used by God to save souls. It’s not our job to build the church. It’s Jesus’ church and He will build it (Matt 16:18). If a church doesn’t care about lost souls, then that church has lost its moral compass and will drift and drift until it runs aground. Without evangelism, the church will die because we are all commanded to share Christ. Let not the church be the “frozen chosen.”

No Discipleship

When we are saved, we’re not nearly finished because we are to grow into the image of Christ, but if there is no discipleship in the church, then they will slowly drift away. We are commanded to make disciples so those disciples can make new ones, but when that process is stopped, so is the personal growth of church members. When we care more about programs that souls, we have the wrong priority and Jesus warned churches that He may take their candlestick or lampstand (Rev 2, 3).  In other words, a church may die because they are being disobedient to the churches Head and that is Jesus. When they refuse the imperative command of the Great Commission, Jesus may just leave that church for good.


I pray you have already trusted in Jesus Christ and placed your faith in Him and not in your own works (Eph 2:8-9), for without the righteousness of Christ, no one can enter the Kingdom (John 3:16, 6:44). Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2) and now is the present time to be saved, for in you delay, it may be too late and you will stand before a Holy God and be judged for all time (Rev 20:12-15). Today let Him be your Savior, for tomorrow He may be your Judge (Dan 12:1-3; Rev 21:8).

Here is some related reading for you: What Does the Bible Say About Church Membership and Attendance?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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