Closing Churches

June 17, 2014

I  was reading an article and the author was lamenting that he pastored two churches that ultimately closed. There are times when closing a church is a good thing. Growing up we had a phrase about being dead and too dumb to drop over. Many churches, especially in large cities have declined to the point where all funds and energies are tied to a building. It is best for them to close and merge with a larger church to be better stewards of their gifts and money. Many refuse because of building worship or living off of past glories. They are in essence docents of the mausoleum. Many rural churches could merge as well since we are far past the days of horses and buggies so a church 10 to 15 miles away that is growing is better than four that are three miles away and are just barely maintaining. In unity there is strength and if ever there was a time for unity in the Body now is the time. Quit calling pastors only to discourage them and drive them from ministry.

I am a Baptist and sadly we are more known for splits than merges and having numerous camps. If there are 13 Baptist churches in a town, but none of them are of our camp we will start one because there is just not a good church in town. Balderdash and poppycock that theory is but we practice it just the same.

Other groups are not immune to this either. I live in a town fo 30,000 and we have two AOG churches and another one trying to get started. We have two UMC churches. One has a woman pastor and that may be the issue that separated them at one point. Lets not talk about how many Baptists we have representing three stripes of the group.

However, if you have four churches in a ten mile area preaching the same doctrine three are redundant. I once found eight churches that could have merged into one, but knowing that would have been the impossible dream I did pairs. I wrote to each pair of churches, none of the eight had pastors, and suggested that they figure out which had the better building and then merge selling the other property using the money to secure a pastor so they could grow.  All flatly rejected the prospect.

One pair had 30 members between them and though I never met them I would be very confident in saying that nearly all of them were over 70 thus in 5-10 years the churches would be closed due to death and dotage. I suggested one such church might merge with the one where I was Associate Pastor and another church in the area got mad at me and read my pastor the riot act. When I spoke with someone from that church and suggested that they merge with them that church did not want them. They did not want to see a building close that had 12 members and all but one lady over 70.

If all you are doing is keeping doors open, you are not wise. Many of these churches have gone through one pastor every year or every two because the church is dead and too dumb to drop over. That sounds harsh, but we need to get past building worship and living in the past so that we can be truly fulfilling our calling. Heal rifts and dump costly buildings that may be lost one day anyway due to death, eminent domain or the loss of tax-exempt status. 100 people in one church can do far more than 20 people in five. A split that is not over doctrinal issues has a 99% chance of being a split in the flesh and caused or at least used by the devil. He enjoys divide and conquer. It is all about God, so unite as He has come to create one Body not millions of loose cells. If all the major doctrines are the same then put the petty bickering and camp idolatry aside and grow up in Christ so that His kingdom grows not yours.

One day, I’ll be more open and tell you how I really feel about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s