The congregation spent some weeks looking at who it was and where it was going. It asked itself what it was good at. All the kind of things they teach you to do in church planning and discernment.
Since it was mostly old folks, with a few in middle age, and a couple of young mums, it was pretty obvious where it was all going if nothing changed... Closure. First a congregation can't afford a fulltime minister. Then it cuts back even more on maintenance. And suddenly, after years of avoiding the obvious, the place collapses financially, the building is sold, and some of the survivors go elsewhere.
This "Making New Connections" program was a last ditch effort for this congregation, even if it doesn't know it yet. The time of critical mass is past. The time of critical condition has begun. Survival is now not assured, collapse is probable. There comes a time, even if you see a way forward, and are willing to move, when it is too late. People are too old, too few, and the money is too little. This time is coming. The coffers are not being replenished.
What were the strengths that people thought they should build on? To what did they aspire? Youth Ministry!
There are NO young people. None! Youth ministry is a ministry done from a position of strength and plenty. It lasts but a few years, is costly, and a congregation of youth is fickle, and has a habit of growing up and leaving home. So what would a congregation of old people, in a town noted for its growing population of country retirees, be doing deciding it should aim at youth ministry?
What it is doing is being suckered into thinking youth is the answer. It is being sucked into the idea that youth are the future. Youth are not the future. Youth have to grow up. What lasts in this town is the families and the old people... and the numbers are growing. The youth have left town or gone to the Pentecostals. A grotty old church and hall which only old people could love has no ministry here. This congregation is, in the old language, committing the sin of Idolatry. And the punishment for idolatry is death, or exile.
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