Can This Dying Church Live?

Dying Flowers

Dying Flowers by Freeparking on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

We are faced with so many declining and aging congregations. Most want to revive their fortunes.

But can dying churches be resuscitated? American Baptist pastor Brandon Cox has some thoughts on what it takes to turn around, and what to do if it doesn’t come off.

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Reasons For Church Growth And Decline

Last week the Church of England published an excellent short report on the reasons churches grow and decline (mainly in numerical terms). You can read or download the report here, and here is a video about it from the Church Army, especially about Fresh Expressions of Church:

While not all of the research can be translated into the context of another denomination, such as Methodism (we don’t have too many official ‘cathedrals’), there are some clear challenges for us. For example: two inhibiting factors are an inconsistent approach to worship and a minister leading more than one congregation. The system of the Circuit Plan can lead to worship styles changing from week to week, and it is common for ministers to have pastoral charge of more than one church.

What signs of hope and challenge do you find in the report?

Church Decline And Gospel Opportunity

City Methodist Church 597

City Methodist Church 597 by Michael Kappel on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Alan Roxburgh nails it: much denominational business today is about managing decline.

However … read his final paragraph:

But amazing opportunity lies before us.  Yes, these are disorienting times for judicatories. But there are alternative ways to address our malaise.  Just as the Spirit of God was creating new imagination and new forms of life in difficult places (desert and exile), that same Spirit is inviting us to discover new ways of thriving. These are creative times of hope – the narratives of loss, scarcity and decline are not our only options.

Might it be true that decline is our only option if we are tied to old patterns of being church? Do we have a great opportunity to rethink and reimagine, while still remaining faithful to Christ and his gospel?