A church that is on the brink of downfall came up with a unique strategy, adopted it, and tried to determine if it could reverse the ongoing decline in churchgoers. The West Side Church of God experienced a surge in attendance, with packed pews and a choir of almost 30 members.
The event has deviated from the church's dwindling attendance in recent years, further affected by pandemic-related losses that ended several ministries, including the choir.
Unique Strategy to Take Back Church Attendance Adopted by Wichita Church
After the emotional farewell service on March 12, the 99-year-old church between Meridian and Seneca at 1900 West McCormick has decided to take a unique approach to its future. According to Kansas, the congregation plans to reinvent itself for the next several months rather than permanently closing.
Before the church's closure, Pastor Forest Cornwell admitted that the congregation's current approach was not sustainable and would eventually lead to its cessation. Rather than accepting the unavoidable, the church's board majority has agreed to pursue a different path by relinquishing their positions and following a plan outlined in the book "Dying to Restart," which has gained popularity among some congregations.
The plan involves replacing the current board with pastors and leaders from successful outside churches and closing West Side Church of God for several months to complete operational transformation before reopening.
The plan to replace the West Side Church of God board with pastors and leaders of other churches is part of a response to a national trend of church closures in the US. In the article shared in Aol, according to a Gallup poll, church membership in the country fell below 50% for the first time in 2020. Though exact numbers of church closures are difficult to determine, it is estimated that thousands of churches are closing each year.
While some studies show that thousands of churches open yearly, the number is insufficient to offset the closures. COVID-related church shutdowns and the reluctance of some congregants to return when they reopened have also contributed to the trend.
Yet according to "Dying to Restart," the book that outlines the road map for West Side Church of God, churches that follow the plan have successfully relaunched. Some churches that have used the program have seen growth that is, on average, about 3.5 times what it was before closing.
Also Read: Church Attendance, Whether In-Person Or Online, Dropped During Pandemic: Survey
Some Facts That Might Help the Declining Church Reverse Things
In the modern world and modern generation, it is evident that Christianity is falling, and the decline is somewhat scary. But some ways and suggestions might help a church get back on its ground.
According to the article in Ministry Magazine, to help a church move off the plateau or stop its decline, the first step is to help it rediscover its dream for the future. Many churches start with a goal, which is forgotten or lost over time. This often leads to a meandering, directionless path forward.
One of the reasons why churches get stuck on a plateau is that they tend to take on the characteristics of the generation that founded them. As time passes and that generation moves on, fewer people remain committed to the core values of the original group. This causes the church to become increasingly irrelevant to the challenges of the current society, leading to a decline in membership.
The average lifespan of a church is about 70 years, similar to that of a human. To extend the life of a church beyond this, it must continuously redefine its dream and make itself relevant to the society it serves. This doesn't mean changing its beliefs but rather rethinking how those beliefs are applied to the surrounding culture.
Related Article: U.S. Churches See Decline as More Americans Turn Away from Religion