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Making Courageous Choices

Most congregations fail to appreciate the impact that their current decisions (or the lack thereof) will have on future ministry. Many of the churches helplessly skidding down the decline side of the curve chose not to take on their greatest challenge some years earlier.

life cycle

(Read last week’s post, Rebirth and Renewal.)

Some of these congregations are making courageous choices.

Remember: the longer the decline, the fewer the choices that exist (manpower, finances, energy, etc.).

1. Some are gifting their facilities to nearby congregations in exchange for a promise that they restore ministry and vibrant mission activity in their neighborhood or community. To in effect become again what they used to be in representing the Gospel in that community. There’s a growing array within the PLI family. Urban, Suburban…probably rural. Anglo, African American, Ethiopian, Hispanic, Asian, etc. Churches in Louisiana, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Florida, California…and I’m sure many other places, too. While one ministry courageously dies, it gifts its facility for a new ministry to be born.

2. Some are gifting their facilities to their regional judicatory dedicated to planting new churches. Not maintaining the institution.

3. Some are enlisting gifted young women and men to 1000 Young Leaders. While their congregation might be aging and declining, they’re lifting up missionary disciples to drive bold mission strategies to the missing generation who are raising their Generation Z children outside the church. Contact Kyrie Klopke.

Here are a couple of amazing things:

· A growing number of churches are creating comprehensive wills/gift planning strategies using the PLI/LCMS Foundation initiative (making current decisions to provide future financial muscle). They’re sowing a few dollars today to realize millions of mission dollars tomorrow. Teri Rice can give you information.

· An Ohio church in the PLI family received a seven figure gift from the sale of a religious property from another denomination! The congregation was well known for its mission engagement and generosity in the city and in their suburban neighborhood. When the leader of the religious group inquired of her regional judicatory she was told that it would gladly receive the proceeds from the property sale to offset deficits and maintain the institution. Not a compelling vision. She directed the property sale to the LCMS congregation that had graciously befriended her to fuel their mission efforts. Amazing!

So, my guess? Wherever you find your congregation? It’s time for some current decisions, maybe courageous decisions, that impact the future mission and ministry that will come years after you.

Two things:

  1. Not much happens without leadership… bold, selfless, humble, mission focused, God-led leadership. Your leadership… 1000YL leadership… whomever.
  2. Institutions by their nature resist change. But, what if the wind of the Spirit of Ezekiel 37 is resurrecting new life in some of our churches?

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