2 Peter 1:8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are two things that most pastors fear for the churches that they serve: that the congregations become ineffective and unproductive. Over the last thirteen years, I’ve watched small unproductive and ineffective churches drain the pooled resources of our Presbytery and denomination year after year without any change to their status. And when Presbytery threatens to pull its resources from them, they become church tyrants monstrously opposed to any interference to their non-existent mission to their local communities.
Most of the time, these small churches are manipulated by one or two strong families who believe it is their divine right to keep the congregation the way it is. They firmly possess all the power, property, and prestige that the church has, sucking its life away by their refusal to let go.
Take, for example, a church in our town that has a beautiful sanctuary, which can seat at least three hundred people, but only has about twelve people worshipping each Sunday. An approach was made to the Session by the local Korean Presbyterian church to combine their congregations in order to redevelop the building and bring life back into the church. At first things seemed to be going well, and then when an agreement was almost made, the twelve member church refused to finalize the process. Rather than bring in hundreds of new Korean church members with their families, they backed out and decided to remain small. Eventually, the church will fall into major disrepair, become dilapidated and die. The congregation is both ineffective and unproductive. God will surely not bless such an out-of-touch-with-reality community.
It’s about time we held our smaller congregations accountable for their lack of mission and purpose, ministry and vision. There’s no good reason to sustain them if they are not willing to make the necessary changes. Let’s not let nostalgia and rooting for the under dog get in the way of Christian practicality and Presbyterian polity. If they will not grow, they need to go.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You hold us all to be accountable for what we say and do on behalf of Your Kingdom. You call upon us to go out into the world, making disciples of all the nations and baptizing people in Your Name. Bless our churches with a great desire to increase Your Kingdom in the communities where we reside. Close those churches who impair Your work by just wanting to coast along and do nothing effective or productive. In Your Holy Name, we sadly pray. Amen.