Autopsy of a Deceased Church

Chapter 3

Today is the third installment from Thom Rainer Autopsy of a Deceased Church – 12 ways to Keep Yours Alive.

Most churches in America do not close their door over one event. Rainer says it is “erosion”. He says “the most persuasive and common thread of our autopsies was that the deceased churches lived a long time with the past as a hero.

He says they are hanging on to biblical threads but not clinging to Christian morality.

There is nothing wrong with being a hero there are several mentioned in Hebrews 11. Heroes of the faith who obeyed God and did what was right in His sight. Rainer says” there is much to revere and remember about the past.” We revere the past but we do not live in it. Much like Psalm 23 we walk through the valley of the shadow but we walk we do stay.

So what do deceased churches hang onto? What do they refuse to give up to let go to avoid facing death? Here is his list:

  • Worship styles were certainly on the list, fixed order of worship,
  • Some stubbornly held onto buildings and rooms especially if was a memorial,
  • Some would not accept the new pastor,
  • But most of he said dying churches focused on their own needs instead of others,
  • They revered the good old days.

Folks, change takes courage.

His prayer for today:

God, give me the conviction and courage to be like the heroes of Hebrews 11. Teach me not to hold onto things in my church that are personal preferences and styles. Some me not only how to let go, so that I may heed Your commands more closely.

His three questions:
1. Are there any areas in your church where you are resisting change simply because of your own preferences?

2. What is the common theme of the heroes of Hebrews 11?

3. Look at Hebrews 11:13-16 and discuss in the light of churches that hold onto the past die.

Published by Pastor Larry

I came to Asbury in June 2020 right after COVID and enjoy being in this great church. We have several things going on that can be seen on our website @ We invite you to attend our service at 2704 South Highway W in Foley, MO. I am confident you will be blessed.

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