I think that your church will die.
I don’t mean in the metaphysical die-to-self sense. I mean in the cease to exist, disappear from the planet, pushing up daisies sense. And not just your church; I think all churches will eventually die.
I don’t think it is because church leaders are doing anything wrong.
If that were the case, every church planter who lived before you did it wrong too. Check the records. Every local church planted in the last 2000 years has eventually died. (The building may still stand, but now tourists pay to see the corpse. A building is not a church.) The Apostle Paul was a master church planter, and yet none of his churches survived. There are remnants of dead churches all over the world, and your church will die, too; trust me on this.
Here is the ironic part; I think God wants your church to die.
If he weren’t ok with dying churches, it seems at least one would have pulled through. We’d get a flyer in the mail saying, “Come celebrate First Church’s 250th anniversary this weekend. Help us break the 10 million attendees barrier.”
The reality is that churches, all churches, have a life cycle. They go from birth to maturity to decline and eventually death. We can live in denial, we can lament the reality, or we can embrace the truth.
It is sad that we pour so much of our time and so many of resources into staving off the inevitable. We build new buildings, we hire new staff, we adopt every new growth strategy that comes along to keep the appearance that we are a vibrant, expanding congregation. We struggle to hang on while all evidence points to our eventual demise.
What if we accepted the inevitable and leaned into the life cycle of a church? What if we figured out how to make the death of a church something to celebrate?
If you knew from the day you planted a new church it would eventually die, how would that impact how you do ministry? What would be your long-term plan in light of mortality?
I have an idea, but I’d like to hear your thoughts. Do you think all churches eventually decline and die? Why does that happen? What should we do about it?