Church Planting Kingdom

My Church Is Failing, Help!

Church Impossible

If your church was failing, struggling or dead would you reach out for help?

Maybe your church is exploding with growth. Maybe your church is successful in winning souls to Christ, discipling them, raising them up and sending them out to plant new churches in unreached areas. Maybe the power and presence of God is charging the atmosphere of your meetings to the extent that revival is about to break out into the streets. Maybe you’re all good….

For the rest, 80% of American churches are either struggling or dying according to Ed Stezer, professor of research and missional ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Check out this little chart I put together to give us a visual of the reality of church growth in America.

My wife and I watch a tv show on the Food Network called Restaurant Impossible. Top notch chef, Robert Irvine, takes on the almost impossible challenge of turning a failing restaurant into a fresh start, revitalized operation within 2 days and with a budget of only 10,000 dollars. These restaurants are in deep trouble. Usually upon arrival he uncovers problem after problem ranging from poor service, dirty, dingy appearances to horrible food and poor management skills. The thing that amazes me the most is what he is able to accomplish with a Restaurant owner who is humble enough to recognize his dream is failing and desperately needs help otherwise he or she will be shutting its doors and putting a “closed” sign up for good.

With the staggering statistics of churches we have been exposed to over the past decade, it is no secret that many churches in America are simply either stagnant, in decline or failing. The parallels to Restaurant Impossible and churches is brilliant. Often times pastors and church leaders are blinded to see the reality of a failing church right before there eyes until it is too late. This is a result of either stubbornness, overly optimistic attitude or a sense of hopelessness or prevailing discouragement. Some churches point blank refuse to adopt change.

Sometimes it is helpful to have an outside ministry bring a perspective to help struggling churches. A prophetic voice or apostolic team can be a saving grace to inject life, help with planning and administer constructive energy to help build and strengthen the local church’s mission. Its good to have access to a person like Robert Irvine, who can see potential issues that could be blocking the life flow of a church or plainly speaking, causing its demise. Robert doesn’t accomplish this alone. He usually brings in his design team to help transform the restaurant into a whole new, fresh looking, and productive operation.

If you’re a pastor reading this, my question to you is if your church was struggling, would you reach out for help? Could you take the time to begin to build the necessary relationships with the Robert Irvines and ministries that would be a refreshment to you and your congregation?

Our hearts desire is to see struggling churches come alive with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Many churches do not tap into the insight and anointing that comes along with the grace and gift of the prophetic ministry. I’m not talking about weird prophecies or emotional hype. I’m referring to true insight and foresight that can literally transform a failing church by the grace of God for those who are open to it. Consider contacting us if you are in need of encouragement, prayer or simply would like to pour out your concerns to an outside ear that can offer a word of encouragement to you or your congregation. One word from God can change your life forever. It has with me, it can happen for you.



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    Dr. Jon F. Dewey

    February 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I think this is great, but the people have to want to hear it, just like on the TV show. I recently consulted for my mother's church in a future and planning session. After presenting my observations and recommendations, the pastor was opposed to them! Instead of taking action that would prevent the church from closing, he and a few vocal members pushed for remaining at the status quo. All I could do was shrug and let them do what they wanted to do. This congregation will probably close in the next two to three years.

    Jon Davis Jr.

    February 18, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Hey Rusty, maybe you could start a show about this on God TV?


    February 26, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I completely agree. I found your blog by asking if there was a church equivalent to restaurant impossible. I want to start one. But first I need to try it out on my 3 churches (United Methodist-3 point charges are all too common).

      Rusty Wimberly

      February 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Jeff, I can't get enough of Restaurant Impossible! Keep us posted on how things are going with your churches. Would love to hear more about what your ministry is up to. Please email me or contact our administrator to get your information. I'm also available on Facebook for sure! We would love to help serve and see that dream become a reality!

    Joseph A. Ruttan

    November 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Our 3 1/2 year old church once had $25,000, but our Pastor left in Mar. 2012 with $4,000 in Bank? I let the music team go, which had drained us, but may be too late, and we only have about $1,500. left.
    Our best Volunteer and Contributor just left the church, so we are loosing money each mth. and will run out within 3 mths. barring a miracle. We have only 3 families left?
    I have been earnestly advertising and collecting reumes for a Bi-vocational Minister, and have 8 Resumes, BUT now we can’t even afford to pay them anything, and all would have to relocate from other states? I don’t want to lead anyone on, so i am telling them the truth about our situation, but I am getting VERY weary of working 40+ hrs./wk. for very little pay, to run everything, and my family and finances have suffered? We need a miracle!!!!


    April 24, 2013 at 4:24 am

    I found this article because I was researching trying to figure out how to fix my church. I’m reading books by Nelson Searcy which have great insight. My prob is I have no team, we started with absolutely no money and no support. Our church is $3,500 in debt as we speak and literally if we don’t get something together soon, we’ll have to
    Fold up. I don’t want to. I want to see this thing through. But I don’t k ow what to do. Reached out to a number of pastors who many didn’t bother to respond but asked me to join their covenants and pay their monthly dues and pay for their conferences and bla bla bla. I don’t have any ministers, no praise team, no help at all. We have great services for what they are but I feel the lack of live music (we use tracks that I sing to) and no finances ($500 a month with $1100 in bills) just has us holding on at the mercy of the landlord. I’d love some free help on how to get this going. At this rate, we won’t make it. Any help is great.

    linda brown

    November 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    our church is so struggling to stay open we need help

    cindy groskopf

    January 22, 2014 at 4:17 am

    our church is major struggling.2 yrs of money left.
    pastor left w a bunch of people.only 50 people left. prally average age is 70 an they won’t let young in for family has worked so hard.its only church my.husband has ever attended.we r looking for a pastor but only 60 yr olds apply an then turn us down
    very difficult situation

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