I’ve been reflecting on some things lately.
Actually I reflect on a lot of things, part of being a thinker and a bit of a dreamer I suppose.
But lately I’ve been thinking about the state of our churches. I live in a part of the country where by next summer over half our the United Churches in this area will be without a full-time ordained minister. It’s a bit of a sad time as there will be lots of empty pulpits. In the span of 12 months, from July 1 of this year until June 30 of 2013 we are on track to lose 5 full-time ordained clergy (4 to moving to other calls, one to retirement) and one Designated Lay Minister (to retirement).
Despite living on an island that is annually named to one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, we struggle to find clergy who wish to relocate here.
So, we end up talking about closing churches, amalgamating churches, part-time ministry and so on.
Yes we have a lot of churches. This we cannot deny. Almost all of our churches were built in a time of limited mobility. But now when I have to travel a whole day for a couple hours of meetings 500km away, and not really have to think that hard about it, we do have too many churches.
But do we close them all?
No. We close where it makes sense. We amalgamate where it makes sense.
But, we should explore the future of every church we have.
Here’s what I think is missing from 95% of our churches.
Many of our churches have no vision, no plan for the future. We all sit in maintenance mode, holding onto what we have.
If we have nothing to work towards, we have no reason for our existence.
Jesus calls us to serve, to go out into the nations and baptize. To preach. To help those in need. To love our neighbours.
We’ve lost that vision, that sense of call. And because of it, we’ve lost people.
So I ask you these simple questions that will tell us a lot about our churches. The answers should be right on the tip of your tongue. I’m going to guess that instead, we need to think long and hard to find something that resembles an answer.
Why does your church exist?
Who does it serve?
Who are you?
Hi Nick, I agree there are too many church buildings. The cost of maintaining a building now, with heat, electricity, property taxes, etc is way more than it was 100 years ago and the people just aren’t there. However the NT model of how we are to meet is not one of amalgamation, but rather smaller house-based groups. It is in that setting that the body works best. You don’t have individuals or whole families fall through the cracks, which happens all the time. It encourages everyone to offer their time, to become invested, not just a half dozen people who do it all and everyone else just show up Sundays. It encourages accountability over seven days a week, and eliminates the spit-polished face that many people apply for Sunday mornings and then go home to lives filled with overt sin.
The Church that I am a part of is the body of Christ. I believe that if, as believers, we identify ourselves with Christ first, not a man-made denomination, then the confusion over _who_ the church is (not what it is or where it is) will be gone and the reason we exist and who we serve will become apparent. Empty traditions will become meaningless, people will see how, like the Hebrews, they have allowed the Judaic system to infiltrate the simplicity of how the Lord Jesus wished for us to meet and break bread and simply remember Him.
We haven’t lost people, we have lost Christ in the churches. He is what draws people, not music, new pews, a bigger building, vibrant children’s program, a great speaker. Sure, you may have more people come out because these things attract the flesh, but that is it… when something more attractive comes along they are gone. When someone comes to Christ, He is what is attractive to them. Everything else falls in the background. What is the solution? Start preaching the gospel, all of it. The bad news and the good news, unwatered down and then pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those who hear the message.
Thank you for sharing Krista! I agree with you whole heartedly. If we find Christ again in our churches, then the rest will take care of itself no matter where we meet each other!