Visiting Churches

Reflecting on Church #34: Should a Church Live Forever?

The Lifecycle of a Church

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #34.

From a human standpoint, the future of this congregation is bleak. When we visited, eleven people showed up. In addition to my wife and me, there were the leaders’ family of five, who go to another church and live forty-five minutes away.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

That makes seven visitors and only four regulars—and one of them walked in halfway through the service.

Four people, all non-leaders, are not much of a foundation for rebuilding a church.

If this church survives, it will certainly be because of God’s Holy Spirit power and not through the efforts of people, regardless of their dedication or how hard they work.

I wonder if it’s time to say enough is enough and shut the church down. Surely there are other needs or opportunities these leaders could focus on that would have a better chance of success and produce more fruit.

Though many people think that a particular local church should exist in perpetuity, we shouldn’t look at a church as an institution but as an organic entity. Like everything organic, it has a life cycle and will one day die. Today may be that day.

Though Jesus’s church is universal and should endure forever, we shouldn’t expect a local church to live forever. And we shouldn’t waste time trying to perpetuate a church on life support or resuscitate a dead one.

[See my reflections about Church #33 and Church #35 or start with Church #1.]

My wife and I visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This is our story. Get your copy of 52 Churches today, available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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