Read this book.
Paul Nixon is a United Methodist pastor who sums it all up here. What if all of us in professional ministry refused to lead dying congregations? If God gives us gifts for apostolic leadership, why would we waste those gifts on ministry that doesn’t give God our best?
A note to tired pastors: there will also be a need for palliative care in congregations that are indeed dying and if your gifts are hand-holding and marrying, burying, baptizing, and preaching comforting sermons, there are parishes that will need this leadership too. But keep in mind that you are tending to the dying. Let them go.
And the next question is: how do you know your church is dying?
It’s not about size. I’ve worshipped recently with a congregation of less than 100 that is clearly alive, bold, and community-focussed. And I’ve worshipped with large congregations that haven’t done anything bold in decades. Their building is a fortress. Their ministry is drudgery. A church is dying when there is no evidence of an urgent sense of discipleship. Paul Nixon explains it well.
So, read this book and let’s get moving.