Autopsy of a Deceased Church Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Today is our fourth installment from Thom Rainer’s Autopsy of a Deceased Church – 12 ways to Keep Yours Alive. I will share his thoughts as presented in his book for our consideration.

The church is to be a part of the community and reflect the community. But communities begin to change for several reasons:

  • Ethnic or social,
  • Age-related,
  • Socioeconomic.

But no matter the reason, the change was real. For two or three decades the church held its own while it was not reaching new members of the community the members were not leaving in mass. They were willing to drive but their children and grandchildren did not. So the church began to feel the death march. Family by family the church declined, while the membership of the church grew older. The idea was for the community to come to church while the church never made any effort to go into the community.

He goes on to say people did not feel welcome in the church (for the most part I think they feel welcome at Asbury).

When a church ceases to have a heart and ministry for its community, it is on a path toward death. New Testament churches were always exhorted to be other centered.

Unity Through Humility

“2 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:1-4 NKJV).

Vibrant churches look after the interests of others they are concerned for their communities. But dying churches are concerned with self-preservation. They are concerned with a certain way of doing church. They are all about self. God called the church to look outwardly.


God, give my church and me a heart for our community. Let me see people through your eyes. And give me the courage and the wisdom to let go of this church, so that others who best reflect this community can lead us and teach us.


  1. Does your church try to reach and minister to its community, even to the point of giving up authority to better reach the people? Explain “yes” or “no.”
  2. When does a church act like a fortress?
  3. How does Pauls’ exhortation to the Philippian church relate to churches today impacting their communities?

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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