First let me say, we love the church. Ken is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. Christina feels like she was made to be a pastor’s wife and thoroughly enjoys serving alongside Ken. Over the course of the last fifteen years of ministry, we’ve loved and ministered to and with two wonderful congregations. But during that time we also noticed some unsettling trends–
- Small congregations, much like the two we served, are shrinking and closing their doors
- Priorities have shifted for many folks, and that means fewer weekly worship attendees
- Small congregations are getting older and there are fewer people able to share the work of ministry and leadership in church programs
- Many small congregations are spending significant percentages of their budgets to maintain under-used, aging, and ill-suited buildings
- Changing government requirements around accessibility and staffing are creating new stresses and strains, especially among small churches
- The cost of staffing continues to rise
- There are fewer people making regular financial contributions.
We love the church and we grieve the trends that we are seeing. We don’t want to make some ridiculous end-of-the-church prophecy, but we also recognize that if these trends continue, they will severely limit our potential for gainful employment in this church in the future (we’ve got a long way to go until retirement). We need to reimagine what ministry looks like in this changing world.
God has promised to build his church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). But according to the New Testament, the church is not a building, a denomination, a program, or a staff. It’s a community of believers gathered around the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. So that’s where we intend to begin: by building a new community. With much prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit’s leading, we’ve decided to experiment in doing church differently.