“Shrink-Smart” communities have something to teach congregations about how to thrive where population is declining.
Six of the eight Presbyterian congregations in my community are small enough to be within sight of closing. But I’m done being sad for them or anxious about them, and I think they should be done, too. I think it’s time for all of us to play!
If all that’s left is a building and some folks who gather once a week to sit and chat, is it still a church?
We live in anxious times, and one of the things that makes small congregations especially anxious is the fear that they might need to close. As members watch their Sunday morning worship attendance dwindle, someone usually starts “running the numbers,” trying to determine how long they can continue before the money runs out and they’re forced to close.
Trust in our institutions—and in our institutional leaders—is crumbling, but there is a bright side: Institutions, it turns out, are deeply fallible human constructions. We were mistaken to ever put our trust in them. As the walls come tumbling down around our institutional infrastructures, the local congregation may emerge as the ideal locale to build genuine community.
If you’re doing everything you’ve always done as a congregation but it’s not working anymore, you may be alarmed, but you’re not alone. Once upon a time, we all shared a congregational business model that seemed effective and ordained: A single site Branding that identified the congregation as a franchisee of a larger entity Management …
by Susan Beaumont
“What are you seeing out there that is working?” the pastor asked when we met for lunch. The assumption behind the question was that someone, somewhere had discovered a way forward, one that we might all benefit from knowing.
This era of congregational life calls for innovation and learning. We praise reinvention, yet our congregations aren’t doing much risk taking. We stay in maintenance mode and wait for someone else to discover a magic bullet that we can replicate.
Why aren’t we practicing what we preach? Why aren’t congregations everywhere taking more risks, experimenting and learning new pathways forward?