Hard Truths: Decisions We Make That Are Closing Our Churches

I am the person charged with sharing resumes (we call them “Personal Information Forms” or PIFs) with Pastor Search Committees looking for temporary pastors. Churches hire temporary pastors when they need a Transitional Leader before calling their next “Permanent” Pastor or they can only afford to have a pastor for the next 12 months – unsure if they can afford a long term leader, or they know they can only afford a part-time pastor.

I remember sharing three PIFs with the committee of a small church who could only afford a part-time pastor, and in a moment of sharing Too Much Information, I said, “Here are three PIFs – two retired pastors who don’t drive at night and a young pastor searching for a first call. If you don’t call the young pastor, you are deciding to close your church.”

Yep. Maybe I said too much, but it was true.

I wrote about the issue of church leaders making decisions that will inadvertently but eventually close their church in 2015 here. It’s still a difficult truth that we continue to make decisions to close our congregations.

Although I’m repeating myself, I still maintain that these decision will result in church closings. It might happen next year or in five years. But until we shift the culture of our congregations to become most concerned with our Neighbors, our Organizational Structure, and our Partnerships (some of which will be unlikely) we are not going to be able to survive in the future much less thrive. FYI: Jesus calls us to thrive to the glory of God.

  • The decision to make our pastor the professional Christian, believing that it’s the pastor’s job (and only the pastor’s job) to do ministry.
  • The decision to morph into a club, more worshipful of our building than God.
  • The decision to perpetuate an institution rather than make disciples or love our neighbors.
  • The decision to choose mission that either separates us from the community we are trying to serve (“We’ll send money but we don’t really want to know those people“) or elevating ourselves over the community we’re trying to serve (“We go help those people because they are too uneducated/irresponsible to help themselves.“)
  • The decision to become landlords (renting our property to “tenants”) over engaging in relational ministry (using our buildings as tools for ministry with partners whose names and needs we actually know.)
  • The decision to choose the wrong pastor or to choose not to listen to the right pastor.
  • The decision to do ministry on the cheap even when we could afford more.
  • The decision to forego basic building maintenance to the point that maintenance becomes impossibly expensive.
  • The decision to allow ineffective volunteers and paid staff to keep their jobs too long.
  • The decision to leave the praying, the Bible study, the continuing education to the person who went to seminary.
  • The decision to hold our pastor to impossible standards.
  • The decision to devote our congregational efforts to something less than God.

The truth is difficult. But we have a choice and many of us are choosing to close our churches in the not-so-distant future.

4 responses to “Hard Truths: Decisions We Make That Are Closing Our Churches

  1. To be faithful to the work to which God has called us and for the work to be pleasing to God. That is what I pray for my church and its congregants.


  2. Hmm…I don’t remember anyone requesting my resume’.
    FeleciaParsell, missional comissioned pastor-Roanoke and surrounding neighborhoods, Presby of Peaks


  3. Sadly this makes sense… I am in my first Interim/Transitional experience and am walking with the congregation as they navigate through the challenges.


  4. Pingback: Rethinking The Stewardship Campaign | A Church for Starving Artists

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