So I've been reading and listening to many sources talking about the challenge of the future for church as we know it. I not one to sit around and do nothing, especially when people say that the church is dying and those of us serving the church are simply chaplains on a sinking ship. I don't ignore what I hear. I believe that church as we know it is not the church that will be in place in the future. I can't believe though that all Protestant churches will cease to exist. I think a number of our churches will figure out what to do. The church has been alive for 1000's of years....I don't think several postmodern generations have the power to kill the church. Call me naive if you will.
I know that the corporate/program model of the church that has existed in suburbia will not be the model that makes it. Though in the area I live mega churches using this model seem to indicate other wise, I don't believe they will survive.
We are at a turning point. Some churches will make the turn....other won't. Those who don't will die. It will take ministers and leaders in the church a great deal of courage to make very BOLD decisions.
In the church I am serving I believe we are at that moment.
Here are some issues and ideas we must embrace:
1. Come to terms with the real number of membership. We haven't been a 1000 member church in years, we are recently no longer a 600 member church. I believe our membership is more in the 400's which makes us the smallest Presbyterian Church in the city. This is not a failure! It simply means we have an opportunity to do ministry differently! Here is the deal.....if we are indeed a 400 member church then our attendance and financial giving are impressive! Get real with the numbers!
2. Focus our ministry. We can no longer sustain the old system of providing a "generalist" ministry. We don't have enough people willing and able to sustain the programs. We need to focus our money, time, and effort on the ministry that we are genuinely willing to support and sustain. I believe the focus is Music/Arts and Mission.
3 We need to staff the church according to the focus of our ministry. If we are to focus on Music and the Arts and Mission then the staff of the church should reflect this. Idea:
Hire an Artist in Residence to work with members and the community.
4. Stop spinning our wheels on Education as we know it. If Music and the Arts and Mission are our focus then Christian Education should happen in these areas and not necessarily on Sunday morning.
5. Stop lamenting about the location of our church and embrace the location as a gift and an advantage. We are in a neighborhood.....people can safely walk to our church. If we were on the edge of a freeway people could not walk to us.....and the noise would not allow us to create a refuge.