There is an either/or proposition regarding a church. It cannot be both and there is no middle ground because the middle ground is actually the first step for “or” option.
Here it is: a church is either growing or it’s dying.
If a church isn’t intentionally seeking to grow, then it is, by default, choosing to die. Trying to maintain a status quo is actually the first step on the trail that leads to death of the church because it demonstrates the attitude that growth is unnecessary.
It’s like trying to roll a boulder up hill. As long as the boulder continues to move up, even in small ways, it doesn’t take as much energy to keep it moving. Once the forward motion stops, it takes much more energy to getting the boulder moving forward again. What is very easy and the very common occurrence, though, is for the boulder to begin to roll back down the hill.
It’s the same for a church. Once forward progress, even small movements, ceases, trying to maintain the status quo most commonly ends up in decline of the church, a path that ultimately leads to the death of the church.
The next step on that trail to death is an attitude of protection. This is the attitude that the church must protect what it possesses from those who might damage or take away from what it has. Outreach is eliminated because something might be damaged or even stolen. Outreach is eliminated because the church has its own way of doing things and anyone coming in must conform to those ways of doing things. New ideas, ideas that do not conform, are not welcome.
And the trail becomes a death spiral, some faster, some slower, but all ending at the same place – the church ceasing to exist, which is death.
There are many churches each year which end up at the final destination of that trail, but the starting point was often the choice, whether intentional or by being unintentional about growth, to maintain the status quo.
The difficulty that I know some in churches have is that ministry, mission, and outreach are nice and neat, at least until people are added! Obviously, then, ministry, mission, and outreach are messy by definition and character. And if a church isn’t willing to intentionally choose to walk in the “messiness” and the “muck,” then that is a choice to take the first step on the trail that ends in death.
If a church doesn’t intentionally choose to grow through reaching out, then that is a choice to die. Some may not like it, but it is reality and the truth.
Either or, it’s a church’s only two options; no middle ground.