Alright, I have an opinion and I’m sure that surprises you. In fact, it’s more than an opinion; it’s a growing conviction about congregational transformation in our area. It is apparent that several congregations in our area will close their doors within the next couple of years. These declining and generational congregations are scattered throughout our region. So what do you do with these churches? They’re struggling now with cares and concerns about self existence rather than future impact. The mode of operation reads “crisis” rather than a relevant methodology to reach a community. There’s some sort of misplaced honor about fighting until the end underlying their decision processes.
I’m an advocate of declining congregations nearing the reality of disbandment to look at a whole other option about the future. Here’s my suggestion. To merge with an existing congregation that has a vision for multi-site work. Instead of selling off the property to some business enterprise, utilize the property for its originally intended purpose. Use it as a ministry outpost for the subsequent generations. But, in order to make it work, you need fresh faces, vision, and energy. Turn it over to another congregation. I’m not talking about sending money and people to an existing declining church to give them a jump start. If the same model didn’t work before, you’re wasting your money and time. It has to be something new, relevant, and relational. There are too many churches struggling on “life support” that just need to pull the plug. They’re wasting time, energy, and resources in a feeble attempt to just exist. It’s time to shut it down and give someone with a vision an opportunity to make it happen. There’s no shame in shutting down and giving someone else a chance. The shame comes in not doing something new and ignoring one’s reality.
How can I advocate such a position? We’ve been a part of this process and experienced God’s working firsthand. It works and can work for other struggling small congregations. You can read an article here about our experience.