OT: Church Buildings - Concerning, or Not

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Denise | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Nov 24 2018 8:59 AM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/does-a-religious-community-need-its-own-building-to-flourish/2018/11/23/d350ca6c-ed1d-11e8-baac-2a674e91502b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9e1189fdecfd 

The article begins in Washington DC, see image below. Just 10 years. I'd say, definitely not representative. But it continues.

And it makes you wonder about the physicality of the church. I'm a analyzer at heart. In our community, deaths seem to be our problem (churches struggling). So, I analyze, as we tour the American West a lot. Some towns are really heart-breaking. Some seemed to have consolidated into a common abode, and healthy. A pastor here laughed, explaining his church was about 7 denominations.  I was surprised at ours.

And if you're thinking, gee, Denise, this is not a sale or a bug, I invite you to scan your theology books (or the Logos library offering).

And my avatar is from a church in New Mexico. The planting man of God had to be an architect, and 'contractor' for the locals that built it. 1600s. The building far outlasted the church. Uplifting for his dreams; sad for the end-point.


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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 24 2018 3:17 PM

Interesting.. thank you

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Nord Zootman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Nov 24 2018 4:07 PM

Thank you Denise. Certainly an interesting read.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 25 2018 10:26 AM

Thanks Denise. I wonder how this compares to other major cities.

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David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 25 2018 1:58 PM

I served a church in Wisconsin that had rented worship space for 15 years (for 10 of those years they owned property, but had never built on it) when the church was advised by the District superintendent that the wise thing would be to close, the membership doubled down and built a modest building on their property. After moving to the new location (just 3 miles from the space they had been renting) the church grew from 60 to 200 in a matter of 2 years and was over 500 in weekly attendance within 5 years of the new building (even though they had the same pastor from when they were renting school space). Physicality communicated to the community that this church was committed to longevity and being a source of help and hope to the community.

That same church peaked at 530 worshippers and shrunk over the next 5-7 years (although still led by the same pastor and many lay leaders were the same as in the rental space days) back to the point where they are now right around 200 again.

My observation is that physicality can communicate stability, but stability is not based solely on physicality.

I'm now serving in rural Kansas where various models of the circuit-riding preacher are being explored. A church in North Dakota has leveraged the multi-site model, paired with a "circuit rider" for pastoral care, to continue to have worshipping communities (with physicality) in sparsely populated areas. https://www.efcatoday.org/story/small-church-big-impact-north-dakota 

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