Close Your Church for Good. Introduction. Now that I’ve finished chapter 1, I felt like I needed to go back and write an Introduction for the book. So here it is. After this, we will get on with chapter 2.
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It is not my desire for any church to close. I grieve whenever I hear of another church having to disband, sell its building, and the pastor has to find a new job, and the members must (hopefully) find new churches. In fact, on the day I began writing this book, I learned that a church I used to pastor had just closed its doors. I knew and loved the people who went there, who poured hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into the church. With many tears and prayers, they had tried to make that church a vibrant source of light in their community. But they closed. And when I heard, I grieved.
So do not misunderstand. I love your church. I love your pastor and the people who attend there. I love the programs you run, and how you have labored for Christ so faithfully over the years. I know there have been great sacrifices, and many people have been helped as a result of your church. That last thing I want is for your church to disband, for the pastor to lose his job, and the people who attend there to no longer have a place to worship, learn, and be encouraged.
To the contrary, I desire that such things only increase in frequency and effectiveness. I want to see more people in church as greater numbers of people are reached with the gospel. I hope that your church becomes widely known for its love, grace, mercy, and generosity. My wish is that the influence of the church only increases. That is why I wrote this book.
If you’ve scanned the book, or read the chapter titles, you may be under the impression that I want churches to sell their buildings and shut down permanently. Let me emphatically say that this is not the message I intend to give. Rather, my hope is that churches rethink what they do, and more importantly, why they do it. Certainly, some churches may close down if some of the suggestions in this book are followed, but if so, they will close for good reasons. They will close to expand their effectiveness and ministry options, not because they can no longer survive. That is how you should understand the title of this book. If you are going to close your church, close it to accomplish something good. This book is about closing your church with purpose, rather than just fading away for lack of funds and people.
So it’s not just a book for struggling or dying churches. It’s a book for thriving churches who sense they’ve lost their direction, or need to revitalize their vision and mission. This book points out several areas and functions of the church that can be closed or modified, and in so doing, better accomplish the mission of Jesus Christ, thereby revealing the Kingdom principles of God. You might be surprised at some of the suggestions that are proposed. But you may also find that in following these suggestions (which initially seem “anti-church”), you and your church is liberated to function as the body of Christ is truly supposed to function. You may find that closing your doors is the best thing your church ever did.
I know what you are trying to say. I agree that the institutionalized form of church is very corrupt and is a horrendous substitute for God’s true design. I think you are confusing saints with this introduction who are struggling with a church that is closing. You directly contradict your title in the first paragraph. This is confusing. These poor confused saints will be more confused trying to understand you going back and forth about how you feel about churches closing or should close. You need to re-write this in a much clearer way without the direct contradiction if read literally – the way most people read things. Even your title is kind of a pun, but most institutionalized folk won’t see it that way. They are deeply imbedded in this system and think it is God’s design. You must rethink this approach to helping them recognize their unexamined faith, unravel the twisted texts that justify their beliefs and their eyes opened to see God glorious design.
Your chapter titles are almost 100% negative. At least include both negative and positive – Tradition A is bad but God calls us to plan A.
Jeremy Myers says
Those are very good suggestions. I do not want the book to be negative, but positive, inspiring people and churches to take the necessary (but painful) steps of becoming more missional and kingdom-oriented.
Michael Fleming says
I applaud your undertaking here. Mindsets are hard to change. You don’t change societies unless you first change the mindset. Once the mindset is changed, the behavior follows naturally. Thanks for being a part of it.
Jeremy Myers says
Thank you for the encouragement, Michael. I hope to get this book finished in the next couple months…
Dave Linden says
As I tweeted to Michael Fleming of 2nd Man United, I can relate. 3 years ago, our church faced similar challenges to what you described above (and what I assume are in said book). Long story short. We deconstructed the organization. I was one of the pastors.
Daniel Hyatt says
Personally, I love the title. If your title was something like, “How To Make Your Church More Effective”, or “Revitalize Your Church’s Mission”, I doubt I would have clicked to read it. Even though the title is NOT about “closing” your church, the headline (title) caught my attention!