Churches and Spaces

We’re seeing a land transfer within the “big-C” church.

I saw it in Holland. My friend, an attorney-turned-pastor, was excited that a tiny church began meeting in the local cathedral-turned museum, though it was one percent his congregation’s size.

I mused over it for many years in Hawaii. We had people. The older congregations lacked numbers but owned expensive land and church buildings. Both struggled. The first for meeting space, the second due to lack of energy and workable vision.

Getting the two to meet proved impossible for me. We built our model mostly around rented public schools or the occasional nightclub.

But times have changed. COVID, our enemy, has accelerated some things for the worse while simultaneously opening new doors. Zoom comes to mind. But there are other benefits.

One is the transfer of real estate to young, vibrant congregations.

Transfer is Good

One church planter reports three older congregations deciding to (sadly) call it quits. Each transferred their lands, buildings and bank accounts to startup churches which had shown significant growth among millennials and Gen Z. And, my friend and his team aren’t the only ones to benefit from this asset transfer. This story recurs, though somewhat sporadically.

Now would be the time to praise the Lord for his benevolence toward church multiplication, but I’m not so sure it’s the right move.

Wouldn’t it be better if everybody won from this equation?

Sharing is Better

What if younger congregations and church plants could maximize flexibility by meeting at some time other than Sunday morning? This would facilitate the rental of existing church campuses owned by people a little more set in their ways. And, money from rents might save some congregations from demise.

An older body of believers might delve deeper into stewardship by seeking to rent (or donate) space to a younger congregation. Again, both would come up winners.

Times are changing and attitudes with them. Less than a decade in existence, one church recently decided to abandon its campus for other than support services because their substantial congregation re-organized around microsites during Zoom. Another church meets in specialty coffee shops after closing (around dinner time for many non-Starbucks). One of my friends is a Russian-language pastor in California. He felt called to launch an English-language service that quickly outgrew the Russian congregation. The Russians then invited three other churches to utilize their facility at different times.

Back to where we started. It’s nice to watch an elderly congregation generously divest themselves of real estate to benefit the kingdom upon their ecclesial demise. But wouldn’t it be better to share? It would keep dying embers burning in one church while infusing strength to an emerging wave of fruitfulness in another.

Please feedback with any stories you know of either successful transfer or sharing of assets. I can use the information for a writing project – I’m asking this as a personal favor… Use the comments box, or email me directly through the contact link.

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