The Tale of Two Churches
We hear a lot about dying churches, and we bemoan their demise. As we should.
However, perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on all these churches. We’ve long known that most churches have life cycles. Perhaps people moved; perhaps new, more popular churches moved in; perhaps people grew old; and, yes, perhaps some poor decisions were made along the way that could have maintained their vitality.
But just because a church closes the doors doesn’t mean everything was for nothing. Because during the life of that church, the good news was taught, children were raised in the faith, a community was served, and people were baptized, married, and buried. None of that gets discounted just because the church decides it’s time to “land the plane.”
In 1997, the Central Church of Christ in Abilene decided it was time for the remaining members to meld into other congregations and quit meeting as a church.
Was it a failure? Absolutely not! These people prayed about what God might continue to do with their building, asked the Highland Church of Christ if we’d be willing to accept their property as a “gift” and do something good with it. This is now the home of Grace Fellowship. Exciting new things are happening there! The God who worked through the Central Church for many decades is still working in that location thanks to the vision the remaining members had.
In 2004, the Southside Church of Christ, a tiny group with premillennial roots, decided they’d come to the end of their congregational lifespan. They, too, asked the Highland Church to accept their building and do something for that part of Abilene. This is now the home of Freedom Fellowship.
These aren’t failures! Thankfully, devoted Christ-followers realized that it was time to pass their property on to someone else. And what a blessing it has been!
In the next decade or two, there are going to be lots of churches that decide it’s time to “close the doors.” But the doors don’t have to be closed! Perhaps they just need to pass the keys to others.
I’m especially thinking of places like the West Coast and the Northeast, where property is so expensive. What an amazing act of faith it would be for these churches that are winding down to prayerfully trust God to do something new through others.
This way, the vision doesn’t end; it just moves into a new world with new vigor. That door you thought you were closing may just be opening to an amazing future.