Every Church Closes

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According to Tod Wilson of Exponential 99.9% of churches don’t live past 100 years old. Most Churches of Christ were planted in the 1940s-1960s which means they are in their 60s-80s. That means that they will die of “natural causes.”

Churches follow the life cycle of a human being. Quick growth when young. Plateau in middle age and then decline. It is natural. It is predictable. It should be planned for. Robert Dale does a great job describing this cycle in his book “To Dream Again.”

What would it look like for us to plan for our ultimate closure? I believe good stewardship would require us to consider this and plan accordingly. Just like a human life, you want your end of life care to be done when you are of sound mind, when you are healthy.

Our churches need to make some changes that recognize life moves on and the doors will one day close.

But I believe that before we can have that conversation we have to take the stigma and shame away from church closure and label it as death by natural causes/old age. It is natural for churches to die. What is required is leveraging that death to do as much future kingdom expansion and blessing as possible.

Churches need to tithe to the future. Set aside/spend 10% of the budget on new church planting efforts.

Churches need to move from educating to training. Train people in the skills to grow the kingdom (disciple making, evangelism, church planting).

We need to develop leaders – this takes time and effort long before it is needed.

And we must be in prayer. Pray about the future of the community without your congregation in it. Pray for the future of your community with multiple churches springing up to reach and teach and love the people in your city! Dream big without your congregation in the picture!

And if you think you don’t need to have this conversation, that means you really do! The problem is, those around the table aren’t in a good position to bring it up, especially the preacher.

I want to close with a principle from Jesus on this from John 12:23-26,

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Let our dying congregation dandelion out to create new growth in places the old church could have never dreamed!

2 Responses

  1. Good Friday morning,

    Your observations have merit, and I must add, in all probability, accurate.
    I will put into action your recommendations.
    Prayer – priority.

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