ChurchMergers\Closures

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Maverick, Apr 11, 2002.

  1. Maverick

    Maverick
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    I have come across quite a few churches in my area that need to consider closing or merging with another church. In fact, I wrote the 4 churches in Gaffney, SC about considering such a thing and looking for some smaller churches to merge as well. I was surprised to see 4 churches in the same town at the same time without a pastor. Having moved here from SC, I know Gaffney t'ain't that big so I am curious as to what in the world happened.

    I would love to be known as a church closer in respect to having gotten people to honestly evaluate their situation and get over politics, pride and assorted poop and do something that would honor the Lord and put the lost in cardiac arrest, Baptists actually merging instead of splitting.

    I have heard some comments hear about not having enough people to fill positions or the right ones or whatever. It is a possibility that the church not being supplied with what the Body needs is hearing a merger order from God. If there are absolutely no "sister" churches in the area then it may be a call to repentance and revival not compromise to fill a slot.

    Has anyone had any luck in getting some churches to merge? I would estimate the there are easily a thousand SBC churches in my area not counting Independents and I would also venture to say that at least a 100 of the SBC ones need to merge or close. Instead of duplicating effots and wasting manpower and money they could branch out into other ministries.
     
  2. LadyEagle

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    I think it's sad. :( Churches should be filled up to capacity and starting satellites, not closing doors. What a sad commentary on the times we live in. :(
     
  3. donnA

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    My pastor says that when you can't fill a position, then you don't need that position, and God is saying not now.
    If a church is empty, they need prayer, and evangelism. Closing should be a last resort.
    It's a shame when we think of closing churches,instead of filling them, theres lots of people out there who need Jesus. Have you ever thought that the faithfulness of those attending is a witness to their commuity?
     
  4. ResIpsaLoquitur

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    I don't know if this is the case with the churches you described or not, but most churches I know anything about started either as missions of the First Baptist churches or because there was a church spilit.It's sad that christians fight, get mad then move away to start another church almost in the shadow of the original church.I don't know why these people fled their original churches because they brought the problems with them since they are human and not perfect either.Just my opinion on how some of these churches got into the shape they are in.
     
  5. Maverick

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    Filling churches is very pietistic and I am all for it, but most of the ones I am talking about have outlived their mission. Many are in a Spanish or Black community that was once White and the members drive in to have church and leave. They either cannot make an impact on their neughborhood or will not. Others are down to almost no members (2-12) and have a huge building so all their labors go on maintaining a building not ministry to people. Many were started back when driving 20 miles was quite a chore, but as we know that is no more. Many were splits because Aunt Suzy was not made secretary or Uncle Bob a deacon and some moron wanted blue carpet and not green. Hardly, deep doctrinal issues but definitely spiritual ailments. Both people have been dead 20 years and now both churches have browb carpet.

    One of my friends believes that churches, like people have life spans that start like babies and grow and mature and settle down eventually dying. If he is correct there are many that are dead and too dumb to drop over as an old saying goes.

    Also, most of these churches are not the only ones within 50 miles of another one. Some are only blocks away from a thriving church or a church that could thrive with a little help whereas the other one is just dying in nostalgia.

    God has promised to supply what the Body needs so if that Body is not being supplied they are either not recognizing the gifts sent to them and using them or they in a state of decay due to sin or the theoretic life span.

    If we are to be good stewards of God's gifts and a bright witness to the World then closing some of these churches is surely in that spirit. I once belonged to a church in NC that started in a YMCA and when they grew to where they needed a building they bought a Presbyterian church that was only open for 15 minutes on Sunday morning. The synod said enough of that and sold the building moving the pastor to another church and welcoming the congregation into another church down the road. Baptists could learn something from that. Pastors and deacons should become attune to when God is closing a door and directing the folks to another one.

    The building may be turned into a rescue mission, school, home for retired missionaries or something else needed rather than a resource vaccumn. I know that there were at least 125 SBC churches in Winston-Salem where I attended Bible college. There were at least that many of independent Baptist churches as well as those who were Baptistic in doctrine but were afraid or ashamed to call themselves such. Quite a few were less than a quarter full and some would seat 650 and had 100 folks there. I remember one like that in Virginia Beach, VA. It is time to get spiritual and quit the game playing.

    In fact, the house church movement is catching on here and many churches may soon find themselves even more empty as people find the smaller family type ministry where you can support more missionaries and help poor people if you are not supporting a large building and staff. We are in the 21st century and we may have to look at doing new things or in the case of the house church movement old things if we are to be found effectively occupying when He comes soon.
     
  6. donnA

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    An older lady friend of mine once belonged to a church with no pastor, and only 7 or 8 members. She eventually left for another church. But today they have grown and have a lot of members,(I don't know how many now, but they have at east 100 I think, and have made an impact in their town. They were running a food bank, and feed several hundred families a month,(the visitrs week after week broke rules, caused trouble, even steeling, so they closed with a lot of trouble, plus the state started demanding more) and an outreach the week of holloween, one of those dramas where you walk through. I'm sure I don't even know everything, but they've grown and become effective.

    edited for some really bad typing

    [ April 11, 2002, 10:39 PM: Message edited by: katie ]
     
  7. Maverick

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    My Sister, I am glad for that church, but they are definitely a one-in-a-million story. Many of the ones I know go through a pastor every year or have had none for years. If they would consider a bivocational pastor they might make a comeback but they want a fulltime ThD that will bring back the glory of the 50's or 60's. Give them 5 or 10 more years and they will close because most of the current members will be dead or in nursing homes. Whereas they could give 5 or 10 more good years of service if they would see the writing on the wall and do what is best not what they like personally.
     
  8. SaggyWoman

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    Barnabas has a great story on this. I am not sure where his "story" link is, though. Maybe when he gets back, he will link it.
     
  9. Clint Kritzer

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    As far as there being so many churches in one area, part of the reason is that the older churches were founded in the horse and buggy days. At that time churches were established much closer together because transportation was so slow. Now that we have automobiles, the density of churches is a bit antiquated but folks hold on to tradition. For sentimental reasons it would be hard to leave a building that has your grandfather's name on a stained glass window or the building that houses the baptismal where four generations of your family were immersed. Even more binding is the fact that many folks have parents, grandparents and even children buried in church cemetaries. That is a strong bond.

    Some splits do occur over doctrinal differences and as Baptist, I think we should respect these divisions. My own church had a split in the late 1800's that lasted for 20 years or so until a fire (I think, I don't have the story in front of me. It's out at the office) destroyed the other building and there is record of a vote to receive them back into the congregation en masse.

    The union of too many churches could adversely affect workers in the church, for example, some preachers may be put out of work. There are also janitors, secretaries, and lawn keepers to consider. Also the volunteer staff would be affected. I, personally, will not give up my Sunday School teacher until one of us dies or he retires! He's 81 this year, slowly approaching retirement age I supose.

    Also, which church constitution should be honored? This document was established from many business meetings and is unique to that church. Also, the variances in pay for the wage holding officers wuld need to be hashed out. What of the abandoned building that one church would leave behind? Would that be insured by the present church or would it be sold and to whom?

    I understand wht you're saying, Maverick, but it's not as simple a matter as just picking up and attending another building.
     
  10. Maverick

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    Again, most of the churches I am speaking of have no staff to make unemployed. They cannot afford a pastor so they hire a new one each week or for a few months.

    Do you know how many church workers are out of a job now because there is no place to put them and yet we "glut the market" every year with thousands more? Few people have heard of Minooka, Ill, but a church there recieved 125 resumes. Two churches, one in CO and the other in AZ received over 400 resumes and that was back in the mid-80's. With all the colleges turning out folks in those 20 years how many ThB, ThM and ThDs do you think are selling cars or doing something else other than the ministry they trained for? It staggers the imagination. Even if they wanted to leave this glutted US market to be missionaries most would take 5-7 years to raise their support if they could get it at all because church members are not giving and many more are leaving jobs to go 5 or more years of school to be unemployed or working a 9-5 like they had before they left. Close a few churches and a few colleges and we might see a big difference for the best.

    Yes, if there are doctrinal differnces then you need to work with those who are in agreement with you. I have been in ministry 27 years and have candidated and spoken at many churches in PA, DE, NC, SC, and now TX. I have read many constitutions, articles of fellowship, etc. In most cases there were absolutely no differences or the differences were less than jots and tittles more like rephrasings. I'm not talking about forming the 1St Methabaptist Luthetarian Holy Mary Pentecostal Church of the Mind. I am talking SBCs with SBCs and Independents with Independents, Liberals with Liberals and those that are right with Right.

    Yes, it may be hard, but it is time we made some tough decisons and quit playing games. One day (and hopefully soon) we will lose our tax exempt status. I bet we see some mergers then or else a huge boom in house churches. Why can't we do something in the Spirit that will happen at the will of men?
     
  11. Clint Kritzer

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    Can't go there with you!!! Sounds like what the Herodians wanted! :eek:
     
  12. Maverick

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    My reasoning is that we have been spoiled by it. We major on properties and buildings and less on people because we pay no taxes on the things that will burn up in the end. Also, it is easier to split since we have money to go buy a new property and start over. Some give offerings to get tax exemptions more so then because they want to give. David asked if he sould offer unto the Lord that which cost him nothing.

    If we paid taxes on our properties and had no write offs would we give as much and would there be a needlees duplication of edifices? Only among the rich who can afford to be silly. Po' folks would have to learn to get along and make do with what was available.

    I believe it will happen one day. Many atheist groups and others are pushing to have it taken away and how many pastors and staff will be out of work when the churches have to go bankrupt becuse they cannot afford the taxes on their plants? There will be many closures and mergers then. I picture at least 100 closings immediately in my area with many a few hundred more a year after it is instituted.

    Let's fake out the Lost and do it now when we can work it to our advantage rather than they working it for our destruction. Indeed, we may have to reorganize and have the church under the auspices of a hospital, school or rescue mission rather than the other way around to keep our exemptions. I am not adovcating a social gospel just a less manmade temple focus and more of a Godmade temple focus. How many of our churches are caring for the widows indeed or have we abdicated that to the Fed and then cuss the Fed at tax time? I remember a missionary to France needing $50,000 to get a bombed out building to meet in while I was sitting on $50,000 pews. We care more for our tushes than souls at times. Cut back on your heating and air a bit and see what happens when our forefathers sat on rough hewn no back benches in a building with nothing but open windows and had one pot bellied stove in the winter. I imagine 2 degrees cooler or warmer in the season might save a ton of money in the larger churches but folks would stop coming or want to lynch the head deacon if you did it. We are way too soft and spoiled and have more interest in the carpet tan in those who walk on it.

    Losing our tax exemption may be the greatest thing to happen to the Church since the Billy Sunday revivals.
     
  13. TomVols

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    I've seen it happen only once or twice. Takes a lot of strong maturity to do it and willingness to give up some power and prestige, and therefore that eliminates many :eek:

    Churches constantly need to evaluate themselves against Biblical commands and functions. If the Bible can be obeyed and God be glorified by churches coming together, I see no problem with it. There are practical things to be worked out, such as whose building will we use, constitution, covenant, confession, etc., but these do not have to be hindrances. It should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. May not be right for everyone all the time. But it certainly should be considered in situtations where it could lead to the glory of God.
     
  14. Clint Kritzer

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    Maverick -

    What you are proposing about the loss of tax exempt status is very contrary to basic Baptist beliefs. It was the early American Baptist elders who helped form the First Ammendment of the US Constitution and established religion as being free of government control. I recommend that you check out this link: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/2502/leland.html

    Once these freedoms are tampered with, there could be no turning back. There was a proposal during the founding of this nation that a tax be collected that would support the various churches. This proposal was STRONGLY opposed by the Baptist. Their foresight recognized that once this was enacted we would be on a steady down hill slide toward the same type of government controlled church that so many had fled in England. Government and religion MUST remain seperate entities if our descendants are to enjoy the same religious liberty that we do.

    I can understand that you feel strongly about wanting churches to merge, but a proposal that affects our religious liberty in any way is a very Machiavellian approach to the subject. It's unAmerican and it's unBaptist.

    I would also ask, how would you handle it if YOU were one of the pastors who lost their job at the same time as losing your tax sheltered status along with your retirement?
     
  15. Maverick

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    And you think tax exempt status is not government control? When the Mormons would not allow Blacks to be elders what do you think changed them, conscience or Biblical truth? No, it was the Fed threatening to take away their tax exempt status. I prophesied to two elders back in the mid-80's that when the Govt said that unless they ordained women elders they would lose their tax exempt status their prophet would get a revelation and women would be ordained. He said, hogwwash, but we shall see. When it gets to where you must ordain gays or lose your status what will you do? It is a form of control and seen as a privilege not a right and privileges can be and have been revoked. Ask BJU. It is a form of Govt control.

    What our forefathers may have intended and what has happened are two different things. And of course, there is nothing to say that their viewpoint was an ex cathedra bull that cannot be challenged or be in error. What they wanted was the Govt out of the church's business. If he were alive I would tell you to ask Lester Roloff about the Govt leaving the Church alone. We are not to be taxed to support a national religion, but that does not mean that we cannot be taxed to support the Govt that defends us. We are not in a theocracy or a monarchy. Our status exists partly due to the grace of the people who have not voted for laws to change it. That grace is being challenged by the political Left and one day may be removed.

    It may cause some problems but it may solve a lot more. The pastors would not lose their retirement expecially since most have nothing for retirement but the Govt's Social Security. The others have something similar to a 401k and they would not lose that either. Outside of that they will have do like Paul and get a job. It will bring the pastor back into the real world and maybe he will be able to relate to his people more and it will give him less time to be involved in politics, national or denominational and stick with the ministry he was called to do. It would put an end to some of the idiotic TV and radio ministries that make a mockery of Christ and His Church since they would not have the funds to do so. Yes, there would be some adjustments to be made for sure, but it may not be as evil as you think. Indeed, call it fiscal persecution if you like but remember that the Church grows faster and stronger while being persecuted than when it is at peace. We won't be fat, dumb and happy,but we may be far more holier and happier. Shalom!
     
  16. DocCas

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    United States Code Title 26 Section 508(c)(1)(a) states that all churches are automatically tax exempt regardless of whether they apply for tax exempt status or not, and regardless of whether they are incorporated under their state's corporation laws. So, according to you, no church in the United States is under the control of Christ, but all are under the control of the government?
     
  17. Maverick

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    Nope, never said that. Clint brought up the separataion of church and state thing, which the prhase is not used anywhere except in a letter that only reiterates that the Govt will never tax a church to support a Govt sponsored "church entity" and does not refer to any other tax exemption. Now, our law may have been created based upon this comment, I do not know. I do know that such exemptions have been revoked or threatened to be revoked if a church riles the Govt by not ordaining Blacks and that may come down to the gay and woman issue as well one day. I do not know of any constitutional right to exemption thus it is a privilege and can be revoked at any time therein giving some control to the Govt. The BJ issue was interracial dating though I did not agree with their position I agreed with their right to have it and the Govt should have not been involved with that at all since it was a faith/doctrinal issue. The Mormons backed down to keep their exemption and I have heard that BJ has mellowed on theirs maybe in hopes of having theirs reinstated. I forget what the exact issue was with the church in Ohio that the Feds closed, but I believe it had something to do about not filing papers for exemption. Maybe someone here remembers the details about that one.

    Christ is the head of the Church and He has used many things to motivate and/or discipline His people. If the Govt revokes what they esteem a privilege they will not do so out of His will. I remember what He told Pilate and that is still in effect for His Bride as it was for Him. We know of the Roman persecutions and the Inquistion. God allowed a government and an apostate organization to have at least some temporal control over His people. He was in control when they were in a time of peace and He is in control when they were in times of persecution. Thus my comment about exemption being a form of control by the Govt does not negate His headship at all.

    If I read Zech 1:15 correctly that even when God chooses to use a heathen nation to correct His people he does not override the freewill of those folks. He was a little displeased and the heathen got carried away and did more to His people than He wanted done and hence He was going to repay the heathen for their extreme zeal in the matter.

    If the Liberal left achieves their agenda Christ will still be in control of His Church and He may well use them to chastise us for our apathy, materialism, etc. They are a tad extremist so will they go overboard should they gain control? Most likely, but paybacks are tough and in the end life here and there will be bad for them. Christ is always in control. Control does not always equate to restrainting, but also allowing and if He allows governments, which He has also ordained to do anything at all to His Church He is still exercising His control.

    I said all that to say this that I do not understand the insinuation of your comment. It appears to have no relevance to anything I said.
     
  18. a street preacher

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    I am curious to know how would you merge a sbc and a Fundamental Independant and a Misionary baptist and a free will?
    They all have differnt doctrine. yes they all claim to be baptist, but some are kJV only and some are amilenialist and some believe you can lose your salvation so how could you merge all these different doctrines? you would have a mess.
    However I agree that like minded could merge, where I live we have no less than 10 independant baptist churches in a 40 mile radius, some are fundamental and some are just independant. some are in the hyles-anderson camp some are bju and some are crown. that is just a piece of the division, some are not seperated in music and dress and some deny that the KJV of the bible is the inspired infallable word of God in the english language.
    As you can see there are major divisions in just this little movement. The devil has done his homework and I believe that untill the return of our Lord And Saviour, The King Of Kings,AND The Lord OF Lords The Lord Jesus Christ the earthly body of the church will remain divided and people will continue to work in thier own power and not God's power.Don't get me wrong we have several that are doing what they are supposed to be doing but very few.

    [ April 14, 2002, 08:16 AM: Message edited by: a street preacher ]
     
  19. Maverick

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    Brother, ya cain't merge a crew like that and I nevah suggested such. The ideal thing would to be close all the Bible colleges and put the pastors to work discipling their men and starting needed churches rather than churches being started because someone paid all that money to go to college and now needs a job. There are some things like I like about some of the circles )don't know crown),but there are other things that reek of I am of Hyles, I am of Jones or SW or pick yer clan. Phooey on that. BJU is on the way out as they have left the TR behind. My own alma mater did the same and I wouldn't send anyone there anymore. Most of the SBC seminaries have Liberal illness and some aren't trying to cure it so I suspect if I sent a preacher boy to a college it would have to be an independent like Pensacola, though they have their issues as well.
    Hyles has at least one professor that thinks it is wrong for a gal to wear a skirt made out of denim. I am all for skirts and as long as they are made out of see through material I don't think it makes a difference. Denim once was the working class material until some Madison Avenue dude made it a trend and now po' folks can't afford most of the jeans on the market.

    -----
    Back to the main subject, this came from a lady on a board that I co-moderate and have also posted this issue.
    ---

    8 months ago I would have loudly disagreed with what you are saying. However, since 8 months ago God led us to this church He has shown me that sometimes it may be better to close than to continue on with the "lack of witness" or maybe even the harm the church is doing by so much apathy. Perhaps it is just discouragement by the attendance of 4 that we had in Sunday School this morning (13 for worship). 8 months ago we were driving a truck and my husband was preaching in truck stops and various churches across the county when we felt God leading us to this church. I am beginning to wonder if it was just to show us of the work we were accomplishing "on the road" and to use us to show the few members of this church that it is time to merge with one of the many other SBC's in the immediate area. Unfortunately if God puts us back on the road, I don't see the members merging. I see them going back to listening to the preaching of whoever they can get to come and preach what they want to hear. They have "itching ears" - Sue
    ------------

    Indeed, if I preached what everyone wanted to ear I would be the pastor of a church at least a 1,000 strong with a radio and TV ministry. Don't want a large church that way. Better small and right than big and wrong.
     

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