This post is from the defunct blog “Dying Church”
The past few weeks, I've been thinking about dying churches. I've read about every type of church – the purpose-driven church, the turnaround church, the naturally developed church, and so on. What I haven't read about is the dying church. Jesus talked about the need for us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross daily and die to ourselves, and that if we wanted to save our lives we'd lose it, but if we willingly died to ourselves we'd really live. I'm wondering – does this apply to the church? Especially these days, when a church can be so easily consumed by providing great programs, building new and better buildings, growing, etc.? Why is it that so much of my life as a pastor is so consumed with preserving an institution rather than in dying to ourselves and staying on mission? I'm also discovering that many followers of Christ are turning away from the institutional church. I wonder if that's because the institution part trumps the church. In any case, there's something important to be learned from their perspective. On June 4, I wrote:
The real question at this point is if, in North America today, a pastor can be more focused on moving beyond the structures and buildings and techniques and lay oneself completely on the table to do what God wants. In essence, I think the call to the church is the same as to each of us individually: to die to itself, to take up the cross daily, to leave all the stuff Jesus calls us to leave. Individually, that's father and mother, husband/wife and children, brother and sister, even one's own life. As churches, it might be buildings and budgets, committees and growth, ambitions and security. Whatever church wants to save its life will lose it, but the church that loses its life for Christ will find it.
I'm hoping to ultimately write a book on what it means to be a dying church. This will be the place I'll flesh out some of the ideas and interact with you. This will be the place where some of my crappy first drafts (as Anne Lamott would say, except more colorfully) will get written. Thanks for reading. Please bookmark, blogroll, and most of all, e-mail and comment.