Project – Factors Militating Against the Growth of the Church

Project – Factors Militating Against the Growth of the Church



  • Background to the Study

The growth of the church has been a subject of extensive study and debate among theologians, sociologists, and historians. One of the primary factors militating against the growth of the church is secularization. Secularization refers to the process by which religious institutions, practices, and beliefs lose their social significance. In many parts of the world, particularly in Western societies, there has been a marked decline in religious affiliation and church attendance. This trend is often attributed to the rise of scientific rationalism, which challenges traditional religious explanations of the world, and the increasing emphasis on individualism, which undermines communal religious practices (Bruce, 2011).

Another significant factor is the internal conflicts within churches. These conflicts can arise from doctrinal disagreements, power struggles, and differences in worship styles. Such internal strife can lead to splits and schisms, which weaken the church’s unity and diminish its appeal to potential new members. For instance, the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, which was sparked by Martin Luther’s criticisms of the Catholic Church, led to the fragmentation of Western Christianity into numerous denominations (MacCulloch, 2003). More recently, debates over issues such as the ordination of women and LGBTQ+ rights have caused divisions within many denominations, further hindering growth (Chaves, 1997).


The role of cultural and societal changes cannot be overlooked. In many societies, traditional religious practices are being replaced by new forms of spirituality and secular activities. The rise of the “nones” – individuals who identify as having no religious affiliation – is a clear indicator of this shift. This demographic change is particularly pronounced among younger generations, who are more likely to view religion as irrelevant to their lives (Pew Research Center, 2015). The church’s failure to adapt to these cultural shifts and engage with contemporary issues has often resulted in a decline in membership and influence.

Economic factors also play a crucial role in the growth of the church. In regions where poverty and economic instability are prevalent, churches often struggle to sustain themselves. Financial constraints can limit the church’s ability to provide services, maintain buildings, and support clergy, which in turn affects its ability to attract and retain members. Conversely, in affluent societies, materialism and consumerism can lead individuals to prioritize wealth and personal success over religious commitment (Norris & Inglehart, 2004).

The impact of globalization and technological advancements is another factor to consider. While globalization has facilitated the spread of Christianity to new regions, it has also exposed churches to a wide array of competing ideologies and belief systems. The internet and social media have made information more accessible, allowing individuals to explore and adopt diverse spiritual practices outside the traditional church setting. This increased exposure to alternative worldviews can dilute the influence of the church and challenge its authority (Campbell, 2010).

The issue of leadership and governance within the church is critical. Effective leadership is essential for the growth and sustainability of any organization, and the church is no exception. However, instances of corruption, abuse, and mismanagement within church leadership can severely damage the church’s reputation and erode trust among its members. High-profile scandals, such as the sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church, have had a profound negative impact on the church’s growth and credibility (Doyle, 2003). Ensuring transparency, accountability, and ethical leadership is therefore vital for the church to thrive and grow.

  • Statement of the Problem

The growth of the church is a multifaceted issue that has been hindered by various factors, which can be broadly categorized into internal and external challenges. Internally, one of the most significant problems is the lack of effective leadership. According to Barna (2016), many churches suffer from leaders who are either inadequately trained or lack the vision to guide their congregations effectively. This leadership vacuum often results in a lack of direction and purpose, which can demoralize members and stifle growth. Additionally, internal conflicts and power struggles within church leadership can create an environment of distrust and disunity, further impeding growth (Smith, 2018).

Another internal factor is the failure to adapt to cultural and societal changes. Many churches cling to traditional practices and doctrines that may not resonate with contemporary society. This resistance to change can alienate potential new members, particularly younger generations who may find the church’s teachings and practices outdated (Jones, 2017). The inability to modernize and address current social issues can make the church appear irrelevant, thereby hindering its growth.

Externally, the rise of secularism and the decline of religious affiliation in many parts of the world pose significant challenges to church growth. According to Pew Research Center (2019), there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people who identify as “nones” – those who claim no religious affiliation. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger demographics, who are increasingly skeptical of organized religion. The church’s struggle to appeal to this growing segment of the population is a major factor in its stagnation.

Moreover, the church faces competition from other forms of community and social engagement. In today’s digital age, people have numerous avenues for finding community and support outside of traditional religious institutions. Social media, online forums, and various secular organizations offer alternative spaces for people to connect and find meaning (Turkle, 2015). This diversification of community options can draw people away from the church, making it harder for religious institutions to grow their congregations.

Economic factors also play a crucial role in the church’s growth. Financial constraints can limit a church’s ability to offer programs and services that attract and retain members. Many churches rely heavily on donations, and economic downturns can lead to a decrease in financial support from congregants (Wuthnow, 2012). This financial instability can hinder the church’s ability to maintain its facilities, pay staff, and fund outreach programs, all of which are essential for growth.

Lastly, negative perceptions and scandals associated with the church can severely impact its growth. High-profile cases of misconduct, such as sexual abuse scandals, have tarnished the reputation of many religious institutions (Dreher, 2017). These incidents can lead to a loss of trust and credibility, making it difficult for the church to attract new members and retain existing ones. The church’s ability to address and rectify these issues is crucial for its long-term growth and sustainability.

  • Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to examine Factors Militating Against the Growth of the Church. The specific objectives are:

  1. Identify the key factors that hinder the growth of the church in modern society.
  2. Analyze the impact of societal trends and cultural shifts on church attendance and membership.
  3. Investigate the role of leadership and management practices in addressing challenges to church growth.
  4. Examine the influence of economic conditions and technological advancements on the church’s ability to attract and retain members.
  • Research Questions

The research questions are buttressed below:

  1. What are the key factors that hinder the growth of the church in modern society?
  2. How do societal trends and cultural shifts impact church attendance and membership?
  3. What is the role of leadership and management practices in addressing challenges to church growth?
  4. How do economic conditions and technological advancements influence the church’s ability to attract and retain members?
  • Research Hypothesis

The hypothetical statement of the study is buttressed below:

Ho: Economic conditions and technological advancements have no significant impact on the church’s ability to attract and retain members

H1: Economic conditions and technological advancements have significant impact on the church’s ability to attract and retain members

  • Significance of the Study

The study of factors militating against the growth of the church is significant for several reasons. Firstly, understanding these factors can help church leaders and members identify and address the specific challenges that hinder their growth. This knowledge is crucial for developing effective strategies to overcome obstacles and foster a thriving church community. By pinpointing the root causes of stagnation or decline, church leaders can implement targeted interventions that promote spiritual, numerical, and financial growth.

Secondly, this study is important because it provides insights into the broader social, cultural, and economic contexts in which churches operate. Churches do not exist in a vacuum; they are influenced by the communities and societies around them. By examining external factors such as changing demographics, economic conditions, and cultural shifts, church leaders can better understand how these elements impact their congregations. This understanding can inform more relevant and responsive ministry practices that resonate with the needs and realities of their communities.

Another significant aspect of this study is its potential to enhance the church’s mission and outreach efforts. By identifying barriers to growth, churches can refine their evangelism and community engagement strategies. This can lead to more effective outreach programs that attract new members and retain existing ones. Additionally, understanding these factors can help churches create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, which is essential for growth in today’s diverse and pluralistic society.

Furthermore, the study of factors militating against church growth can contribute to the overall health and vitality of the church. Growth is not just about numbers; it also encompasses spiritual maturity and the well-being of the congregation. By addressing issues such as leadership challenges, internal conflicts, and resource limitations, churches can create a more supportive and nurturing environment for their members. This, in turn, can lead to a more engaged and committed congregation that is better equipped to fulfill the church’s mission.

The significance of this study also extends to the broader Christian community. By sharing findings and best practices, churches can learn from each other’s experiences and collectively address common challenges. This collaborative approach can lead to a stronger and more united Christian witness in the world. Additionally, the insights gained from this study can inform theological education and training programs, equipping future church leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the complexities of church growth.

Finally, this study is significant because it underscores the importance of continuous evaluation and adaptation in the life of the church. The factors that impact church growth are dynamic and can change over time. By regularly assessing and addressing these factors, churches can remain relevant and effective in their ministry. This proactive approach can help churches not only survive but thrive in an ever-changing world, ensuring that they continue to fulfill their mission and make a positive impact on their communities.

  • Scope of the Study

The study examines the factors Militating Against the Growth of the Church. The study is restricted to selected Churches in Ikorodu, Lagos.

  • Operational Definition of Terms

Factors: These are elements or components that contribute to a particular result or situation. In the context of a study, factors are the various influences or conditions that can affect the outcome being examined.


Militating: This term refers to acting as a powerful or conclusive factor in preventing or hindering something. When something militates against a particular outcome, it works to oppose or obstruct it.

Growth: Growth refers to the process of increasing in size, number, value, or strength. In the context of an organization like a church, growth can mean an increase in membership, resources, influence, or spiritual development.

Church: A church is a building used for public Christian worship, but it can also refer to the collective body of individuals who share the Christian faith. In a broader sense, it encompasses the community, its activities, and its organizational structure.

Economic Condition: This term describes the state of the economy at a given time, including factors like employment rates, inflation, income levels, and overall economic health. Economic conditions can significantly impact various aspects of life, including the growth and sustainability of organizations like churches.

Project – Factors Militating Against the Growth of the Church