Last week we took a look at centennial churches, churches that were 100 years old or older. These churches genuinely serve as significant contributors in the life of our denomination. Nearly a third of churches, worshipers, and baptisms all come from these old churches, but old churches do not come without their own set of challenges. Let’s look at three challenges of old churches.
1. The Building. Many old churches are still worshipping in the same worship center that they originally built. These buildings have slowly deteriorated, and since many of these old churches are small, they do not have the budget to keep up with maintenance demands.
2. Traditions. If you have ever heard a church member say, “Because we have always done it that way.” You are probably staring at a person that is emotionally invested in a tradition. Traditions can manifest themselves in a host of different ways: programs, worship style, and church practice probably top the list.
3. The Past. The past can be both challenging or encouraging. For some the past was great, and therefore the church has a difficult time focusing on the future. For others the past was terrible, and the church and community are scarred from past pain or hurt. The past can be a paralyzing factor for some old churches.
A churches building, traditions, and past are significant obstacles in old churches. Your church may be affected by some or all of these challenges, but there is hope.
1. Create a plan. Every ministry and action of your church should be planned and methodical. God has blessed many of us with physical places of worship, but taking care of these structures can be challenging if there is not a detailed action plan. Begin today to look at your facilities through the eyes of a guest and decide what steps need to be taken to correct any past negligence.
2. Preach the Word faithfully. Often it is only the Word of God that will help a congregation see that the focus should not be on a methodology or a program but Jesus. Anything that we do as a church should have a focus on Christ. The faithful preaching of the Word will help soften harden hearts.
3. Love the community. The past is hard to overcome, but a singular focus on exalting Christ in the community will allow the church to focus clearly on the future and the community to forget a negative past.
What a gift the Lord has given us in old established church. In spite of their challenges they a testimony to God’s faithfulness to the church throughout generations.