Over the last several months, a Legacy Churches ad hoc group found that there are churches dealing with the 6 indicators of potential closing, as mentioned in Legacy Churches by Stephen Gray and Franklin Dumond. The 6 factors include:
- Public worship attendance has drastically declined
- Staffing of essential ministries is no longer adequate or effective
- Annual income is no longer adequate to do effective local ministry
- The church has not consistently grown over the last five years
- The age or the tenure of the membership is unusually high
- Survival has become the main mission
These churches are at a point of asking, “Do we have a future or have we come to the end of ministry as we know it now?” For many churches, this is a hard question to ask and to answer. Sometimes we do not even know where, or how, to begin a process of determining the future. A major learning tool for the Legacy Churches group is the importance of having an external individual, such as a coach, to come alongside of the church in making critical decisions. No church should navigate this path alone.
The Legacy Churches group has provided two documents for churches to use in this situation:
A discernment process for a Ministry Leaders’ Retreat based on Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Pursuing God’s Will Together Concerning the Future of our Church. This document was developed by Pastor Martin Contant, Home Missions Regional Leader, Classis British Columbia North-West.
A practical step-by-step process for closing a church entitled, Ending Well, written by Pastor Ron Bouwkamp, a Specialized Transitional Minister, who worked with several churches faced with closing.
These documents and other helpful resources will soon be available on The Network and websites of Home Missions and Pastor Church Resources.
Feel free to weigh in! What has been your experience as part of a church closing - both as staff and as a longtime member? We have much to learn together.