Can a Church Win Even in Death?

Last week, I posted about my newest read, The Great Dechurching. If you haven't read the book yet, I hope you pick it up or listen to it on Audible like me. It's not only about the church's vitality in our modern age—it's about the availability of a formalized spiritual lifeline for our children.

I am still chewing on a comment the authors made: "A church can win even in death." 

Yes, churches are dying. Did you know? 70% of people who go to church today attend 10% of the churches. The majority of churches today have 100 or less people attending each week. As people continue to leave the church, that means these smaller churches will continue to close their doors due to a lack of attendance and financial solvency. 

This is a sad fact. We have all seen churches, whose buildings might be paid off, cling to their dwindling resources in an attempt to hang on. It is a slow, painful death for those who remain.

What can the church do?

First, the church needs to prepare its future leaders wisely. Pastors are basically walking into a church equivalent of an ER. One can imagine that it's exhausting work, especially without the proper training. Seminaries need to train pastors how to intelligently handle dire financial situations, effectively market what they can provide using modern tools like social media, and foster adequate pastoral care avenues to support pastors so they don't burnout.

Second, I'd like to challenge us as pastors and congregants—better yet, as people who love Jesus—to consider new ways of growing his body. How can a church win in death? The authors propose that a dwindling church can gift their paid-off building to a new ministry that might be growing. This allows a dwindling church a new opportunity through a shift in perspective—they can still bless and minister by planting a mighty seed.

As a Protestant pastor, I am proud of my heritage. I am proud of a tradition that looked to put a Bible in every hand. But Christianity's many denominations and non-denominational church options have splintered our ability to see our solidarity. Quite simply, the world needs Jesus. We are all on the same team. And for Christ's body to have a viable way forward, we need to act like it.

The world today is growing increasingly polarized—politically, socially, and religiously. If the church can't model humility and conversation with the other, who can? Especially when the future of Christ's very body is at stake, each of us is an essential member. My prayer is that God opens our eyes to the unique gift we have in one another. 

This week I invite you to consider along with me:

When is the last time I've spoken about Jesus with a Christian from a different tradition?

How do I frame the many different church options to my children when they ask?

Is it possible to find a local service opportunity for my children that brings different churches together?


Please continue to pray with me for the Middle East. Our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters need our prayer. Every drop of blood does not fall lightly.


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