It’s something most of us don’t think about, let alone experience. Somehow God has allowed
my family to experience it once again (yes, this wasn’t the first time). What am I talking about?
The death of a church.
There are many different reasons that a church may close. From my experience. I would say
some of the top things that lead to the difficult decision of closing the doors to the church are
problems with leadership, lack of finances, and a lack of interest. The reasons for my
experience are not that important, but I think I am safe in saying that no matter what the reasons are, closing a church is a difficult thing to do.
Each time we experienced a church closing, we were on the leadership team- not at fault for the circumstances we were in, but faced with burdensome task of not only navigating our family through the transition, but attempting to help the families we had come to love navigate as well. As with much of what I write, I look at this experience through the eyes of a husband, father, and kids pastor. If I were serving in a full time ministry role, I would be faced with not only losing my church, but with losing my job as well. Thankfully I have another job, so I do not need to rely on ministry for income (though I have in the past). Instead of looking for a new job, my first and top priority is to now find a new church- one we can attend and learn in, and a place my daughter feels comfortable and can learn as well.
I have experienced multiple difficult times in my life, many of them ministry related. This situation is no different: God has taught me a few things.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that your ministry is in fact, not your ministry. It is God’s ministry. With as much time and effort you put into what you do, you may feel that you are responsible for the spiritual well-being and growth of the kids in your ministry, but you would be mistaken.
Your responsibility is great-
- Creating a fun, safe, loving environment in which kids can learn about God.
- Studying and teaching biblical principles in a way that kids can understand.
- Providing resources for parents to empower them as they raise their kids.
But you cannot change a heart. You cannot save their soul. It is God’s ministry, and only he can change people. You can do your part and create the right environment, but God is the one who saves. If your church closes, God is working in other churches as well. He will lead the families to a place where he wants them. The CHURCH is a big place, and not limited to your building. This is a hard concept to grasp. I have found myself trying to make myself responsible for the kids and their families. At the end of the day, I am responsible for myself. I am responsible for making myself available for God to use. God is responsible for changing lives.
The death of a church is a very difficult event to deal with. Through my experience, God has shown me that though it may feel like it, it is actually not the end. One church may be ending but His CHURCH is not. God will protect his people. The families will move on and find a new place to call home. I continue to pray for the families that I had the opportunity to minister to, and I know God is in control.
I find myself turning the page and closing a chapter. I am sure I will find myself turning back to read that chapter again, but I need to remember to turn the page again to begin the new chapter God is writing for me.
Have you found yourself in this position before? How did you deal with the situation? I’d love to hear your thoughts- feel free to post a comment.