One of my roles as Transitional Presbytery Leader is to resource Lehigh congregations, encouraging new ways of thinking about ministry in the 21st century. Sometimes I will use this weekly note to provide links on a particular topic that you may find helpful in your own context. Today it’s church buildings.
Nothing’s gonna change my world. (The Beatles, “Across the Universe”)
On the fifth anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, George Bullard of the Columbia Partnership wrote an interesting article title “February 9, 1964: The Day the Church Changed Never to Go Back Again”, pointing out that this day initiated the end of an era for the church in the U.S. Among other things, Bullard claims that night “symbolizes the end of the heavily age-graded program approach for the attraction of people into congregations. It also should have marked the end of the building of Christian education facilities….It did not and many buildings by this design continued to be constructed and underutilized.”
Speaking of underutilized church buildings, I recent read this article about how a portion of the building of Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia was re-purposed into living spaces. The congregation sold the building to the developer and is currently leasing the sanctuary and a portion of the building to use for worship and ministry. This is just one creative way for a congregation to get out from under the burden of maintaining a too-large, underutilized building that has become an obstacle rather than a tool for mission.
Does your congregation have a building that is underutilized? Have you every asked the question “What is our building suited for and what does the community need it to be?” Through a program called Project Regeneration, the Presbyterian Foundation can help your congregation explore ways to re-purpose financially burdensome church buildings into new opportunities for ministry. Click here for stories about what other congregations around the denomination have done. Let me know if you’re curious about this and I’ll help connect you with a Project Regeneration team member.
Rev. Rhonda Kruse
Transitional Presbytery Leader