Take a look at the article in World magazine (October 29, 2005 issue) about church closings.
Get ready, America. Get ready for the huge collapse from within that is soon to result in the locking of hundreds and then thousands of church doors across our countryÄîall from the inside.
The trend is already well under way, of course, in Roman Catholic circles. In Boston, in Toledo, and in St. Louis, parishioners are protesting, but to no avail. They don’t buy their bishops’ arguments that priest shortages, dwindling finances, rising maintenance and utility costs, and shifting populations are forcing once familiar facilities to be boarded up. From the vigor of the protests, you’d think that hundreds of thousands of folks had been displacedÄîbut it was the emptiness of the pews in the first place that produced the phenomenon.
Mainline churches, like the Methodist church in my own neighborhood, will not be far behind. Denominational treasuries simply aren’t up to the task of sustaining ministry personnel and facility upkeep for neighborhood “franchises” that can’t carry their own weight. When the 25 elderly people who gather now each week dwindle to a dozen, someone will have to pay the piper. And someone will have also to figure out who will mow the lawn of the church that isn’t being used anymore.
And thenÄîsooner than you thinkÄîit will be the turn of the evangelical churches as well. Thousands of them, too, are teetering on the edge of their existence. Stick your head in the door on a typical Sunday, and see how many children are around. If you were a regional manager for McDonald’s, you’d close the place in a jiffy. Except for the grit and determination of a few old stalwarts, it would already have happened. But there’s no promise for the future.
Go to your Google search engine and enter “church closings.” This morning I got 508,000 responses. A few of them had to do with finding out who was closing in case of snow or ice. Most of the entries, though, are about a much, much worse storm that is brewing.
Another reason I hope to start DonateChurch.org as a place for dying churches to plant their seed into new church plants. Kind of a classifieds for new churches who are growing to find dying churches and the reverse. More to come…