Do You Recognize These Church Diseases?

“Healthy churches build an immune system to resist disease. It is much more advisable to prevent an illness than to contract one and then have to cure it.” – Peter Wagnerimgres

The following are a few of the most common diseases that infect churches.  By recognizing some of the symptoms my hope is that we will turn to the Great Physician, the Gentle Healer, and seek necessary medical attention.

I am using Wagner’s terms here, and have added my own commentary:

Ethnikitis:  Fear or disregard for others of different ethnicities and/or races.  This disease is caused by contextual factors, usually revolving around a static church (in-grown and non-growing) in an ethnically transitioning neighborhood.

Ghost-Town Disease:  Found in communities where old residents are moving out, and no one is moving in.

People-Blindness:  This malady is directly related to a lack of understanding of the significant differences between diverse people groups within the community.  It occurs when churches fail to consider how those differences may impede evangelism efforts.

Sociological Strangulation:  Wagner says: “This is a slowdown in the rate of church growth caused when the flow of people into a church begins to exceed the capacity of the facilities to accommodate it.”

Arrested Spiritual Development: Wagner: “When people in the church are not growing in the things of God or in their relationships with one another, the total health of the church deteriorates, and the church cannot grow.”  To this I will add, if the church did grow, it really has nothing to offer those who come, nor to the community where God placed them.

Do you recognize any of these diseases in your church?

Your Partner in Ministry,


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  • What are the visible areas of the church that you can measure – the key metrics – and should
  • The 9 church diseases afflicting churches of all sizes and how to recognize them in your church
  • Why growth should be the norm, not the exception for your church
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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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