According to Thom Rainer, “At least two-thirds of churches are declining, maybe more. We estimate that about 100 to 150 churches are closing every week. The sighs of despair are justified.” Please note that this statement is made in reference to “churches” in general in the United States and not specifically concerning the churches of Christ. However, it is pretty clear that our brotherhood closely reflects this same trend.
Rainer goes on to write:
Even among those churches that are hanging on, a number of their leaders feel a sense of futility. Though smaller churches vastly outnumber larger churches, more people are attending the larger churches every week. The migration from smaller to larger is clear and evident.
Church leaders and church members sense the shadow of the larger churches over them. They see their young families move to the churches that have ministries and programs for their children and teenagers. They see the newer, even cooler, buildings of the larger churches.
They see it. They sense it. They know it. Is there hope? Do these smaller churches have any path forward? Can the smaller and mid-sized church survive in the world seemingly dominated by larger churches and megachurches?
The answer to the question is an absolute “yes.” I make that declaration not by sentiment nor false hopes, but by clear evidence of God’s work. Though the number of scrappy churches is still relatively small, they are growing in number. I am convinced scrappy churches are a growing trend of the reality we will soon see.
The Columbine congregation needs to be what Rainer refers to as a “scrappy church.” We refuse to give up. Let’s be feisty, tenacious, determined, persistent.
We believe that the Columbine congregation still has a purpose in the Southwest part of the Denver metropolitan area. We are not blind to the difficulties around us, but we remain certain God is still working in this congregation.
Church revitalization is slow. It typically takes congregations five to seven years to successfully turn-around. More about church revitalization next week.