Would Your Church Be Missed?
A perennial question asked of churches is, “If you disappeared tomorrow, would the community notice?” I just drove past the first church that ever paid me to minister only to find a huge For Sale sign in front of it (It’s not the church in the picture). I remember the building projects ongoing during my short tenure there. I remember the desperate pleas for money from the pulpit when the projects did not attract bigger numbers as the pastor had predicted. I remember quitting my position as an intern, frustrated at the way ministry was being done. I remember watching the youth pastor and children’s pastor leave at the same time too. I remember so many people being angry and frustrated too. After I left I heard that the church was “rebranded,” becoming a satellite of a famous church downtown. I knew from the few contacts I had left there the church continued to shrink despite the fact that it was located in one of the fastest growing cities in California. A smaller sign next to the For Sale sign announced that beginning immediately services would be held at a theater over in the next city. The asking price for the campus: $5,300,000. I wonder if anyone in the church’s home city will notice its absence. I was one year old when the church was planted, and now it no longer existed in its city. It is now a video-venue for a trendy church 30 miles away, meeting in a rented space for 2 hours a week. I wonder if anyone noticed.
Once upon a time, the church was the center of the community. It was a place for the community to worship, be ministered to, get help when they needed it. Churches were deemed so important that cities would put up signs on the freeway and major streets to direct you to them. Churches used to be just as important to the community as hospitals, schools, and police stations. Now churches take up space between your house and the shopping mall. What happened? Can we ever go back?
If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone in the neighborhood notice? If they did, would anyone care?