Our work / mission Formation / Factors leading to decline
FACTORS LEADING TO A CONGREGATION’S DECLINE
- Cultural apathy or animosity toward the church
- re-zoning, re-routing of roads, closing of town businesses
- arrival of a mega-church
- abundance of churches
- change in ethnic composition
- decline and aging of population
- drop in socio-economic status; drop in available jobs, etc.
- Decreasing Worship Attendance
- Aging Membership
- Financial Stress
- Ineffective Communication
- Resistance to Change
- Loss of Members by Death/Transfer
- Lack of Pastoral and/or Lay Leadership
- Loss of Unifying Confession and Values
- Isolation from Community
- Unclear Mission in the Community
- Survival Mentality (wanting the institution to survive without any change)
- Lack of Ignitor Events (events which cumulatively slow or stop the decline)
- Lack of Viable Core (few volunteers or donors)
- Conflict (unreconciled or mismanaged)
- Triple Elder Effect (older church, older members, and older pastor; difficult to draw younger families)
- Relational Dysfunction (unhealthy relationships)
Factors Precipitating Increased Likelihood of Closure
- Critical Attendance Decline (dipping below a “critical mass” of worshipers)
- Critical Lack of Leaders/Volunteers
- Critical Income Decline (inadequate resources to support the church’s mission)
- Fatigue (especially among pastor and leaders)
- Attrition Due to Open Talk of Possible Closure
ALTERNATIVES FOR CHURCHES CONSIDERING POSSIBLE CLOSURE
- Communicate openly with the congregation regarding the present challenges, confronting denial and asking for commitment to a new chapter in the church’s mission.
- Participate in a congregational mission formation process.
- Secure a loan or line of credit for operational expenses.
- Offer facilities for rent to secure additional income.
- Call a semi-retired or bi-vocational part-time pastor.
- Close for a time and rebirth the congregation under a new name, vision, and pastor.
- Ask neighboring churches to send one young couple each to reseed the congregation.
- Find a partner or partners for a dual or triple parish arrangement, sharing a pastor.
- Form a parish from a cluster of churches and share two or three full-time pastors.
- Find a strong mentoring congregation to support your ministry with funds and staff.
- Merge with a larger congregation and become one of its multiple sites.
- Merge with a cluster of congregations and rebirth as a new congregation on one of the existing sites or on a new site.
- Traditional Close (assets sold; remaining assets and proceeds usually go to district)
- Phoenix Close (assets to new church plant on site, often new pastor, new name)
- Merger Close 1 (merge with larger church; assets handed over to larger church; church rebirths as additional site of larger church, likely with new pastor and new name)
- Merger Close 2 (merge with cluster of churches; assets handed over to cluster; church rebirths as a consolidated new church with a new name and perhaps new pastor[s])