A new year often means a new focus, or more specifically, a re-newed focus. With the year being 2020, it is no wonder that many are using the term “focus” in their ministry visions and talk of the future. We are no different.
Hold Fast the Truth Ministries, Inc. was formally founded in 2002. This parent corporation includes many facets of ministry. Churchhelps.org was our original “baby” by providing links to many topics relating to church needs. As pastors called seeking counsel for situations they were facing, we expanded to include other resources. Century Baptist Church is the church planting arm of the ministry which allows us to assist as needed in emergency situations when a church is going through a difficult time. Ministry Imprint was added in 2018 as our newest addition which allows us to utilize technology to even further help with ministry evaluations and consulting.
This year we are launching a “branding” change for much of the ministry. Introducing, Ministry Rescue. This new name quickly identifies where we have found ourselves ministering the most in the last number of years. Weekly we are made aware of more churches who are struggling with many issues. Some may seem to be superficial wounds while others are life threatening.
Cultural shifts all over country are clearly affecting the church. We are actively pursuing better ways to help these churches through their hurts. The word “revitalization” is a term being used more today in our church circles. Revitalization of a church is needed even if the issue seem to be superficial. Catching hurts early allows churches to refocus or revitalize. Waiting too long to deal with issues makes healing more difficult, if possible at all. When a church reaches the level of life threatening a move to re-plant may be the only answer.
Our renewed focus will help churches to regroup, rebuild, and replant. We will walk churches through the steps of making changes that never violates any biblical principle while finding the best practical way of being a healthy church. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact us through this link: Contact Us
It is never easy to watch a church fall towards death. Fear begins to grip the remnant as they wonder what will become of them, of the church’s legacy, of the community it is a part of. There are many reasons for a church dying, some are of their own doing, others are because of the damage of others. Regardless of the actual cause, it is always because of sin.
September has been a tough month. A high school friend
passed away suddenly. A dear college and ministry friend died after a yearlong
battle with brain cancer. Amid all of this was the 18th anniversary
of 9/11. The idea of death has been a constant thought for the past few weeks. If
you have never experienced the death of a loved one, then you may not
understand that with the loss of that person is also other deaths. There is the
death of dreams. The death of traditions. The death of hope for some when they can’t
see how they could possibly go on. The end of stability and routine. Eventually
these things will return, though changed, as time passes, and others come into
Death, however, does not only come to people. We have seen
far too many churches die. The death of a church is rarely sudden. It is more
along the lines of a cancer that eats away the life of the church. People slowly
leave as they begin to see the inevitability. Often there is only a remnant of
people that stay until the end.
The process of death is the same. Once a church has been
diagnosed as dying there is often denial, an inability to accept reality. “We
just have to have faith.” Once all the activities and “doing” and those doing
all the “things” have been exhausted in order to “save the church” some of the faithful
remnant begin the slow leave. The slow leave is when they stop serving like
they used to. They don’t come as often. They are out of town more. Ailments
flare up more often. Being at church is more painful than not being there. It
is difficult to watch what you love die.
Many times, people from the outside begin contacting the
pastor with their concerns. Some will be encouragers and say to keep fighting.
While this is a nice sentiment, it is tantamount to a doctor prescribing chemo
or radiation for a patient on life support. An exhausted, discouraged church
people cannot continue without seeing some glimmer of hope. Those who truly want
to help will be completely honest with the pastor and the remnant. They may be
gentle in their advice at first. However, if the advice falls on deaf ears,
they may resort to being blunt. Their suggestions will then be this: merge or
close. In other words, join with others in a life-giving move (a blood
transfusion) or pull the plug.
We use the example of a roller coaster
hill when illustrating the downward decline. Not many pastors or church members
recognize the beginning of the downward fall. Once that downward turn begins
there are steps to take to prevent the crash to the bottom. A complete review
of how the church ministers, and more importantly the “why” everything is done,
is necessary for a successful revitalization. Through the process, although
brutal to complete, a plan of action can be determined to set the church on a
new path of growth and life.
However, once the church is on
that downward fall, it takes great effort and radical change to reverse course.
Unfortunately, many churches refuse to take those necessary steps. Instead,
they throw as much time and money as they have until all is spent. Or they do
nothing and are satisfied to remain where and how they are if they can meet the
bills. They are ineffective in any aspect. They eventually become a burden to
the church community. Most sadly, once their doors do close, they are a poor
testimony to the community at large. Churches do not die well. They certainly
do not glorify our Lord and Savior when they do.
It is never easy to watch a church fall towards death. Fear
begins to grip the remnant as they wonder what will become of them, of the
church’s legacy, of the community it is a part of. There are many reasons for a
church dying, some are of their own doing, others are because of the damage of
others. Regardless of the actual cause, it is always because of sin. Until the
sin is dealt with biblically, the church may not recover at all. God cannot
bless His church when there is sin present. He didn’t bless the children of
Israel whenever there was sin present in the camp. Why would we think He would
bless a modern church if sin rules?
Rather than close their doors churches do have the option of
merging with other believers of like faith. For many this is a scary prospect.
But from death comes life. When a Christian dies we know that they have gone on
to eternal life. When a seed is planted in the ground, it must die before life
of a new plant can begin. Life can also come when two or more churches die to
themselves and merge together.
In some cases, a struggling church merges with a stable church.
This can happen in many ways. The struggling church simply joins with the
stable church with the dying church’s assets sold or absorbed by the stable
church. A stable church could also send their own members to the struggling church
(especially if some distance away) to oversee it and grow a separate strong
church in hope that one day the new church could once again become autonomous.
In other cases, several struggling churches could choose to
merge together to grow a strong one. This is a bit more complicated as there is
usually the issue of who is going to be the pastor. For these situations, someone
(whether an evangelist or a seasoned pastor as interim) is usually needed to
oversee the merger and to aid in the search for a pastor for the newly formed
In the case of mergers there is death also. Death of
previous names. Death of some ministries. Death of traditions. Most
importantly, however, there needs to be death of self of every member of each
church. As this new church forms everyone must be willing to lay on the altar
all those things that they want, they desire. It is only when this occurs that
a church merger will become successful.
Death is never easy. But for the Christian, death is not the end. For a church, death does not have to be the end either. Death brings change but it also brings life. If your church is on the brink of death, consider what can be done to let it die and at the same time bring new life.