All living beings have a life cycle. Much like humans, the church has a life cycle. This is nothing new. All of our churches were born for a certain time and place. With that birth comes growth and energy; then comfort. We become comfortable with the way things are going. Everything is working well much like a plane on auto-pilot. But without new growth, programs, or ideas, our churches often enter a plateau and then the decline begins. Before you know it, we go into survival mode which eventually leads to death.
Many of our historic churches were birthed for a particular reason or mission at a very specific time in U.S. history. Although it is hard to understand, our world has changed and churches have not always been able to change. Some churches were birthed for a particular ministry and mission in their communities but now that mission field is no longer there. With all of this comes a lot of emotions involved in this discussion. There is shame and guilt, grief and anger, more than can be shared on this page.
The resources listed below are for churches in every stage of life. So whether you are discerning planting a new church or closing an existing congregation, these resources will be helpful in your discussions.
Living Legacy workbook and resource
UCC webpage on Church Legacy and Closure
Book: Toward a Better Country, Church Closure and Resurrection, written by L. Gail Irwin.