Following Jesus sometimes seems dangerous. If it doesn’t, you might not be following Him.
So start slowly.
Take a simple step.
If you and your church decide to take some of the suggestions in my book, Close Your Church for Good, and are trying to decide what to do next, let me offer the same advice that is given by Robert Farrar Capon in his book, The Astonished Heart:
My program would be this. Whoever was in command over the dying institution… would take the bull by the horns and kill it: close the church, dissolve the board, sequester its endowments, and sell off its property, putting the proceeds in escrow just in case the corpse ever rises and finds a use for them. Then the managers would explain to the remaining members of those churches that they were free to do anything they could think of (or nothing at all, if they so chose). A suggestion would be made, however, that they might think of holding a kind of wake on the next Sunday, perhaps in one of their homes, or in a restaurant or bowling alley that didn’t open until 1:00 p.m. And if they took that suggestion….
Well, they might sit and stare blankly at each other to begin with. But with any luck, some free spirit (young or old) among them would break the ice with the questions they had never before been able to ask—namely: “Who are we?” “Why on earth are we here?” And, most important of all, “What do we think we’d actually like to do?” Having no model at all to meet the upkeep on and no known shape to whip themselves into, they would for the first time be open to looking for really new answers—honest answers—that could range anywhere from “We haven’t the foggiest notion, but let’s get together next Sunday and see if anything’s occurred to us in the meantime,” to “We’re here to be the church, I suppose—whatever that means,” to “How about for openers we just try to stick with fellowship, breaking bread, and saying prayers?—maybe God will take care of the rest, if He wants any.”
This is great advice from a clergy member who has followed his own suggestions. I have followed them too, and Close Your Church for Good, is part of the result of asking the sorts of questions Capon invites us to ask.