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Dying Church? Five Signs You Still Have Something to Give

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In most cities, you don’t have to go very far to find a church whose “glory days” are behind her. Many churches are declining. Churches close down all the time.

If this is happening in your church, you might be losing hope.

We serve a God who is always doing new—or shall we say, fresh—things.

For many churches, their story is over. Perhaps, like he says to the individual follower, God looks down and says “well done, good and faithful little community.” For others, there is still work to be done.

Here are five signs your church still has something to give:

You Have a Space

For many declining churches, their primary asset may be their building. In years past, the building may have been solely dedicated to official church activities. Today, the building sits vacant most of the week.

Have you thought creatively about how your building can be a blessing to your community?

A few options might include:

  • Offer free or cheap office space to like-minded non-profits and businesses
  • Open a restaurant that serves affordable food for impoverished neighbors
  • Share the space with a young church plant

Many people sacrificed to build your church’s building! Pray that God will help you re-imagine its use.

You Have Money

Declining churches often have financial resources, either frozen or liquid. Perhaps it is time for you to redistribute what you have been given to a new generation of Jesus followers?

My own young church community has received financial support from a declining congregation. Years ago, they sold their church building and started meeting in a home. They continue to worship God and love each other. They used the money from the sale to form a foundation that supports new church starts like our own. We couldn’t do it without them!

You Have Pioneers

Every church has a few “pew-sitters” who could become pioneers. Pioneers are women and men who are passionate about groups of people outside of your church. These pioneers know and love this people group, and can imagine new ways that the church could be birthed among them.

Look over your church. You might have someone like these pioneers:

  • Pet lovers who could share the gospel at the dog park
  • Bikers who could “love the hell out people.”
  • Knitters that could re-imagine church for knitting groups
  • Artists who could minister to the creative community

Equip these women and men for pioneer ministry, and then wait to see what God will do.

You Have Mentors

Perhaps your declining church is full of “senior saints” who have a lot of life experience to share. Personally, my life has been redefined by families that took me in and cared for me.

Young Jesus followers are in desperate need for mentors who can help them navigate relationships, business, finances, parenting and more. Sadly, many fresh expressions of church have trouble engaging different age groups.

Perhaps God has equipped your church to bless a younger generation.

You Have Vision

As you probably have heard, without vision, the people perish. One sign of life is that your church is still full of vision.

Vision is not the same as wistful regret. It does not mean saying “I wish things were different.”

Vision is not a general hope God is still at work.

Vision is a clear and definable preferable future that lines up with God’s stated hopes and dreams.

An example might be:

  • A future where every person within a one mile radius of your church building is prayed for face-to-face.
  • A future where different churches in your neighborhood team up to serve poor residents.
  • A future where your church adopts local pioneers and church planters and cares for them in tangible ways.

Is your church dying?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Either way, there is still some life in you.

Just imagine what God could do!

Join a Pioneer Learning Community and learn how to start a fresh expression of Church

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Chris Morton

Chris works across the organization to help get new projects off the ground and into the world. He also helps to manage our email, social media and other digital communications. He helped plant Austin Mustard Seed, where he served for five years as Community Developer. He also works with several other non-profits and businesses to tell their story with content and social media. In 2012, he graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with a M.A. in Global Leadership. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Laura.

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