Summary: You may as well hold the funeral and move on.
Is Your Church Dead?
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
There are many, many churches in this country that are dead. Growing up there was a phrase that said that someone or something was dead but too dumb to drop over. I am afraid this is the situation for many. They think they are alive because they have a name. That name may be a reputation of past glory. They once had so many members with so much money in the bank and they did such and such, but that was twenty to fifty years ago. Some just have a name on a sign and in the phone book. They have or had a name that seems to indicate life, but they are dead.
We see seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. They all have their problems, but Sardis had nothing going on for it except a few Christians that were the real deal. The church was dead and like not every cell dies at once when we die they had some things that may had them in denial thinking they were alive, but Jesus says those things were dying as well. He held open an opportunity to repent for He can raise the dead. We do know that there is no church in Sardis. Indeed, none of the places mentioned in the two chapters survived until this present day. All had their candlesticks removed.
1Sa 4:21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.
The ark of the covenant was where the presence of God manifested in the tabernacle. The ark had been captured by the enemy and the high priest broke his neck and his son were slain. So the priest's grandson was named Ichabod to commemorate the departure of God's glory from Israel. Here it was well known that the glory was gone, but oft times it is like Samson who woke up after Delilah's haircut thinking all was well for he did not know that the Spirit had left him.
God no longer dwells in a tabernacle or temple despite us calling our churches the house of God. He dwells in His people. The church building is just a place where the Body of Christ meets to worship, fellowship and prepare for ministry. God moves in the assembly and changes lives and gifts for actions not just for rituals or to make people feel good.
Many church bodies that were once on fire for God somehow lost it. Something happened and God stopped working in their midst. Since man is a religious creature, it can happen and no one notices. They still have three or four services a week. They have three hymns, a special, an offering and a sermon. They still have fellowship dinners and support a few missionaries so all is well. There is money in the bank and the size of the church is comfortable so no one misses the power and presence of God. It is like a battery in them. They had their battery charged at some point and as long as the battery stays charged they will notice nothing until the battery gets close to death. Then they will try to recharge the battery through programs, revival speakers, and even strong preaching designed to initiate action through fear or guilt.
Unless they repent, they will lose their candlesticks because without the constant recharging of the Holy Spirit, their battery will die no matter what they do. Some will take longer than others, but they will get down to the last member or the last financial problem and gasp their last gasp.
You can read the book of Acts and see what a living church looks like. I will summarize by showing some signs of a dead church.
There is no outreach.
The first church was one that reached out in evangelism. They took the Great Commission seriously and were trying to win souls and edify saints wherever they went. A dying or dead church does not do this. Often because there are too few people and they are all geriatric patients, but not always. Coldness is worse than just being too old and there are many cold Christians.
There is no reproduction.
Because of the outreach souls were being saved. The Body of Christ grows just like any family. If you have not seen any spiritual births in your church in years there is something wrong. If your baptistery has been dry and the home of spiders for what seems like forever you are dying. If the only new members are sheep from other folds they do not count as reproduction or real spiritual growth. If all your members and your prospective members are over fifty, you are dying and will be dead in twenty years or less as the members die or transition to the nursing homes or wander out from you as they wandered in.