Started by D. Engebretson, January 15, 2020, 12:18:42 PM
Quote from: peter_speckhard on February 09, 2021, 05:05:43 PMQuote from: PrTim15 on February 09, 2021, 04:59:56 PMWhen the dark of Covid is over and the light of healing shines upon congregations and across our denomination, what percentage of congregations in the LCMS will either close or have to close? Probably at this point, given the hyper individualism, a done deal for a number of churches as nobody reached out to them and they didn't reach out either. Will be interesting to see how the visible church is refined through this time.I think you'll see a fair number of them limp along with pure supply preaching. It gives retired guys a very part-time, low pressure gig for some extra money and lets a congregation of 20 or 30 people gather in the place they love. It will become common enough to be considered a "no harm, no foul" approach that isn't good but also isn't bad enough to do anything about.
Quote from: PrTim15 on February 09, 2021, 04:59:56 PMWhen the dark of Covid is over and the light of healing shines upon congregations and across our denomination, what percentage of congregations in the LCMS will either close or have to close? Probably at this point, given the hyper individualism, a done deal for a number of churches as nobody reached out to them and they didn't reach out either. Will be interesting to see how the visible church is refined through this time.
Quote from: FrPeters on February 09, 2021, 09:49:20 PMMaybe something is going to give. . . we will see. Some of those dying have been dying for so long they were kicked off of hospice. That said, what is so wrong with a congregation serving its members as it slowly dies? We have no ecclesiology that would prevent it. I would prefer that we did but we don't. If there is a willing retiree and a congregation with a few bucks, what are we to do about it? We can try and persuade them but what skin is it off our noses if they choose not to listen? Again, I am not advocating for this but admitting that the ecclesiology the LCMS has chosen cannot prevent it, can it?
Quote from: Randy Bosch on February 10, 2021, 09:07:22 AMQuote from: FrPeters on February 09, 2021, 09:49:20 PMMaybe something is going to give. . . we will see. Some of those dying have been dying for so long they were kicked off of hospice. That said, what is so wrong with a congregation serving its members as it slowly dies? We have no ecclesiology that would prevent it. I would prefer that we did but we don't. If there is a willing retiree and a congregation with a few bucks, what are we to do about it? We can try and persuade them but what skin is it off our noses if they choose not to listen? Again, I am not advocating for this but admitting that the ecclesiology the LCMS has chosen cannot prevent it, can it?Where are the representatives for the "dying congregations", the outreach to them, their voices in this discussion?Forgive me, for it appears that the LCMS (and probably ELCA and other denominations) are on the road to a centralized top-down approach - maybe even a dreaded algorithm - to determine fates from afar. Will a black ribbon task force be formed to empower a Synodical Grim Reaper?Harsh? No more so than some of the discussion hereon. Size cannot be the parameter - I would hypothesize that a goodly number of small congregations are very healthy and serving their community with great vigor on behalf of the Gospel - perhaps even more successfully than some touted super-sized congregation. You will never have a super-sized congregation in a small city or town. In some larger cities, in some denominations, the mega-churches have sucked parish life out of their vast service area and as noted put older, smaller actual "parishes" onto life support. So what if a blessed family financially supports a small congregation? Are the large congregations supported by the correct proportion of widows mites? Praise God if they are, but also praise God if even they are kept financially afloat by a few generous members.Whether one likes LCMS style congregationalism or not, legally many small congregations are not only independent corporations but are the captains of their own fate with constitutional and other legal protections from being crushed by big brother. Perhaps Synod can deny further membership to some for not adhering to yet-to-be ordained statistical criteria; perhaps if faced with such a draconian approach many who are not tethered in by financial instruments and "modern" constitution amendments will just depart or allow themselves to dissolve, to be reformed in another body.Sounds familiar.Where's the prayer? Where's the voice of the diagnosed from afar congregations?I've become grumpy about this navel gazing (of other people's navels) for a while, so it's time for my prayers about this dissection of souls as well...
Quote from: D. Engebretson on February 10, 2021, 09:36:42 AMI live and minister in one of those rural and more lightly populated areas where people often talk of the risk of 'dying churches.' In fact, I have spent over 20 years in this area, some of it working with other, smaller congregations in addition to my own. At this point in time we have a particular challenge, and it's not just closing supposedly under-performing congregations that resist closing. With the indoor retreat of the pandemic the usual ways of reaching people have changed dramatically. There was a time when you encouraged people to bring a friend to church as a way of introducing them to the faith. But now we have a hard time just getting many of our members to do that. And with a lack of real in-person interaction among people for the better part of a year, how do you encourage real outreach? The online, live-streamed option has its benefits, and I am using it regularly. It has opened some doors, but how many of these will be long term? I am hoping that once we move beyond the strict and restrictive stage of this health crisis people will begin to again want to explore the value of community, especially community around Word and Table. At this point the challenge is keeping the doors open long enough so that we are poised for that mission once the field turns from virtual to real again. Having just attended a DOXOLOGY retreat recently that was held for a joint meeting of the circuit visitors of the North and South Wisconsin District, I am even more acutely aware of another, quiet crisis that may be receiving too little attention. As with the psychological fallout in the population in general (rise in suicide rates, abuse, etc.), we have the emotional and spiritual stress and strain within the ministerium to face as well. We are talking about what churches may survive the pandemic with doors open, but how many clergy will remain to the bitter end to see the light of the new day? I will be honest and admit that I think about retirement every day (I am 60 and yet five years away from Medicare). I am deeply committed to my parish and have great support and thank God for the stable finances. But I, along with countless others, feel an almost intangible weariness as well, with a insecure feeling that we are not doing all that we can do (which brings lingering guilt, among other things). Our clergy are an unseen and under-reported group suffering from the emotional/psychological/spiritual fallout of this strange and prolonged season we are in. At least I can see some people inside my church. I feel for those who minister in states with draconian lock-down measures still in place. The end stage of this crisis has yet to be seen and evaluated. There will be other, large issues for the church to deal with that we may only now beginning to realize. As a side note, I have to wonder if the seminaries are preparing their graduates in different ways given these new and continue stressors that may be a face of the church of the future.
Quote from: Randy Bosch on February 10, 2021, 10:14:03 AMThe Wyoming District consists almost exclusively of small congregations and a great percentage of them in rural towns or villages. I wonder of the Atlantic District folks who dialogued with them several years ago learned anything about the health and survival of those congregations and pastors who live in a far more fragile circumstance than many?I also wonder if anything can be learned from the history of Lutheranism in fraught places. I read an excellent article by Dcs Betsy Karcan of Concordia-Chicago about Lutheranism in Lithuania (https://lutheranreformation.org/history/lutherans-in-lithuania/ ) Don't toss off the idea - the history of Lutheranism in Lithuania has some striking parallels to America - not in wars, genocides, and unfriendly governments (yet, and pray to God that those conditions never happen here).What can the church in America learn from its most isolated and fragile non-urban cohorts, and from the isolated and fragile cohorts from abroad, that focus on their "how and why" that might be worthwhile church-wide?
Quote from: PrTim15 on February 10, 2021, 01:59:41 PMThis was the article that started my thinking from Thom Rainier. The title is Is types Churches that have Died During the Pandemic".His list:1. The aged church2. The fighting church3. The deferred maintenance church4. The Run--off--the--pastor--church5. The neighborhood looks different church6. The infant churchLink to full article...https://churchanswers.com/blog/six-types-of-churches-that-have-died-during-the-pandemic/