You don't need a ton of proof to know that more and more churches are struggling to survive. It seems churches that are in this predicament have one of two options: revive or die. There are a lot of books, seminars, and workshops given on how to go about reviving a church. However, there is not one cookie cutter, full-proof, and effective strategy in reviving a church. Having said that, it doesn't mean that it is impossible. There are many examples of struggling churches that have successfully revived the congregation, increased the health of the church, and expanded their ministry.
I recently wrote a blog about how to kill a dying church, asking questions about what to do with so many churches dying. I think the challenge is recognizing the signs that a church is dying. The problem is that churches tend to wither, which is a slow, gradual, and often subtle process. It is difficult to pinpoint when in the withering process it is time to take action, to make changes, and to make some vital decisions. While there are many reasons for a church dying, here are some practical observations that I have noticed in my experience. This list is certainly not exhaustive. It is also a list that my congregation has personally had to face, so I give examples of how my congregation has addressed these issues.
In 2004, I was the 40th Korean-American clergywomen to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. denomination. Forty seems like such a small number when you consider that in 2011, Korean-American Clergywomen (KACW) will be celebrating their 20th anniversary. However, many Korean-American women are still wandering the desert of the ordination process without a rock, well, pitcher, or even a drop of water in sight to quench their thirst to serve as God has called them. There have been times when we wished there was a Moses to break the rock or the obstacle so that freedom and the ability to serve as a minister of the word and sacrament would gush abundantly, but the reality is that many Korean-American women cannot find calls or find the support they need to find a call.
As our nation mourns the untimely death of the King of Pop, I am grieving over the death of a lesser know man: a man whom many will never know, but whose mark on the world is significant. Two weeks ago, Rev.