If you found an antique car in a barn and purchased it for an amazing price, would you rather pour time and countless amounts of money restoring it or would you rather sell it, take the profit, and get something new? The restoration process wouldn’t guarantee that it would be successful.
You can try and try to restore a failing church but there comes a point in time where the effort is directed at something new.
There are many churches that would need an incredible amount of resources poured into them to get them turned around (with no guarantee of success). There are churches of 25 people sitting in 500 person auditorium occupying $15 million+ properties. Is that what God would want? I am not God but I am not so sure it is.
It might make more sense in some instances (not all) to sell the facilities, take the assets and start a new work while possibly taking the extra money and blessing ministries that are doing kingdom work effectively.
It seems to me the traditional model of the American church is struggling mightily.
Countless churches have closed.
Very few churches are making disciples.
Attractional church failed to show changed lives.
Nearly 100 seminaries have closed in the last 7 years.
COVID accelerated it all.
I don’t think this gets turned around by trying harder at what we have already been doing.
We are being forced to deal with a new reality. And that’s good. American Christianity needs a reboot. We need to get serious about what God is serious about. The problem is, who gets to define what makes that list?
The criteria I use is that we should emphasize what scripture emphasizes and be on the mission Jesus and the apostles were on. If we major in minors and fail to be on mission then we have missed the point.
So let the cracks show and let us have the courage to try something new.
In my mind, we need to:
- Bring the church home – located amongst neighbors
- Stop leaning on hired staff and equip volunteers, exponentially increasing our number of “ministers”
- Equip elders to be spiritual leaders and shepherds
- Be on the move – go out, meet people, and engage with the good news
- Make sure love is our motivator rather than fear
- Operate out of a generosity perspective rather than a scarcity perspective with our time, money and talents
- Repent of our control issues and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and His kingdom
- Teach our children to be disciples who make disciples and stop relying on a third party to do this
- Get back to funding and personal involvement in mission and benevolence.
- Downsize our facilities to the size of the church body and use the excess resources to fund mission. Read this to catch that vision.
PS – to be clear, I am not against the traditional church paradigm. God is doing a lot of good there. We need to recognize that. AND we need to recognize that for a growing number of congregations in massive decline, it is making less and less sense.
For more on this check out my video on YouTube