Monday, February 11, 2013
Should Churches Die?
On the one hand is the research that shows the average church lifespan is from 50-80 years and that only one-in-twenty churches can be revitalized to extend that lifespan (Gray, Legacy Churches).
But, I was challenged to come up with biblical basis for allowing churches to die. I had a hard time coming up with anything.
So, on the one hand, we have the reality of the situation which says that normally churches die after about 80 years, but on the other hand we have the exceptions that continue to thrive for centuries. So, on which should we base our practice?
I did think about Jesus teaching on death in John 12 - "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
He's not necessarily talking about churches here, but about himself. But it's clear that he's setting himself as an example for his followers. Death leads to life. Jesus died so that others could live and he asks his followers to do the same. Is it too much of a stretch to extend that principle to churches?
Maybe. Maybe not.
I think a few things are clear:
1. We need to get much better at starting new churches. For some reason this is still a struggle rather than a natural response.
2. We need to get much better at revitalizing existing churches a 5% success rate is abysmal.
3. We need to get much better at dying for the sake of others. What that means, exactly, I'm not sure. But Jesus clearly taught that his followers are the types of people that are willing to sacrifice for others.
What do you think? Should churches die?