It can be done. Chief among churches who are suffering the loss of Christendom are mainline denominations who have the added burden of maintaining capital assets. Imagine a world where the church is struggling because it has too many buildings to pay for…. It’s a problem because many (most?) of those buildings sit empty.
But then you get a glimmer of hope with a story or two about a pastor who’s trying to revitalize his declining church. Not in an attempt to return to a power place at the centre of culture, but to become a co-creator alongside the city and neighbourhood.
Graham Singh, is doing just that in downtown Montreal at the renovated St. Jax church. Have a listen to this CBC documentary about his work.
I’ll have the chance to set foot in St. Jax this Summer while attending the Vineyard Canada national gathering.
Of course, what Graham is doing is nothing new, it’s just (unfortunately) rare. As institutional churches look for ways to update their mission, Singh’s example is worth following. Which begs the question, why aren’t more pastors and denominations–particularly mainline traditions with ample buildings–doing more revitalization? Is it a lack of leaders? An inability to identify or build leaders? Congregations that don’t want change?
If you know the answer let me know. I hope to see more updated churches acting as beacons in their neighbourhoods, particularly in urban areas. And if anyone from the Anglican Diocese wants to give me a building in downtown Calgary, I could be tempted to jump through the hoops 😉