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Why I Won’t Hold The Hand of A Dying Church

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It just hurts too much. I’ve been a part of a few churches where I saw it happening in front of my eyes. Why is it that the number 2-4 guys can see it but not the number one guy?

I’m not built for it, emotionally that is. I can’ stand to watch things die. This probably goes back to watching my dad die of cancer. It was a slow and emaciating death. There is a cancer in many churches

  • lack of vision/leadership
  • the inability to get rid of idiots
  • silence
  • pretending that the church is not dying and doing nothing aka apathy

No matter what the cancer is, I don’t want to watch it happen. When I was 12 a neighbor asked me if I wanted a dog. I said no, because I had dropped a dog when I was little and it had to be put to sleep. I told them, “I’d probably just kill it anyway.” It may be the reason I won’t pastor a church. I’d probably just kill it.

I don’t understand it, death that is.  Maybe I’m still too young. At 49 I have more life still left in me and those in dying churches are in their 70’s. That’s not an official stat, it’s the average age of those in the dying churches I’ve worked. Regardless of all the stupid crap I’ve seen, I still have some optimism and faith in me. Not in myself, mind you, but in God.

I’m not special, not like hospice nurses. Hospice nurses have a special calling. They meet the needs of the dying. Both recognize that death is a reality and, barring a miracle, inevitable. Day after day, nurses bath, give meds, talk , and make the inevitable more comfortable. I respect them and I respect the pastors who can stay with a church to the bitter end. I’m not that guy.

I just don’t believe communities of faithful people have to die. I understand that every organization has a stopping point. Amazon caused hundreds to go out of business. Toys R Us will be closing soon. Every business fulfills its purpose and moves on, but not the Church. The Church was built to last and will last in whatever form it takes.

Maybe churches are the same in respect to change. Toys R Us could have been the world wide online toy deliverer, but they were too slow. Books A Million could have been the word wide book deliver, also too slow. The Church is and can be the greatest deliverer of hope there has every been, but to many are to slow to change. To weak to change. The Amazon church has gobbled them up.

I don’t blame churches for dying any more than I blame a human being for dying, except if it could have been avoided. Smoking causes cancer. Drinking too much leads to alcoholism and  liver failure. Bad eating and not exercising leads to obesity and heart disease. All can be avoided. Churches that are dying could survive, but it’s like they don’t want to.

I can’t bear to watch the church throw away it’s potential and its’ resources on crazy “get well quick”experimental drugs (programs, trends, snake oil, etc.) rather than do what keeps them well, prayer, evangelism, serving the poor, worship, neighborhood outreaches, killing their ego, and getting rid of cancer causing toxins.

What do I know. It’s 4:40 am and my heart is heavy for the dying church, that community that Christ died to fill with power and will marry one day. I just don’t want Him marrying a corpse.

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