While not inevitable, it is good practice for the Church in decline.
Regional church leadership means getting the ball rolling early on behalf of more local ministries, and less about total prevention.
We already know the effects of a typical economic downturn:
- Loss of jobs (ie. layoffs)
- Less total giving in the Church
- Greater demand of food and other basic necessities
- Migration, both local and global
- Trouble imagining a better future
So, what will churches have to do? Well, in general…
- Do more of the same with less
- Find more / other sources of revenue
- Provide proclamations of better futures w/ integrity
What the region can do
1 – Teach how to talk about it
There are already many decisions being made on the fear of a particular reality, not a present one. This can bleed over into the life of the Church. So, it will help for regional leadership to set a good example about how to talk about it.
One clear thing not to do: say that everything will be okay.
A better alternative to this is to talk about what exactly you are doing to get ahead of things. And, what you have learned in terms of how to talk about contentious matters with constructive disagreement.
2 – Give models of change
Churches and ministries need more than an idea of the “right way” of doing things.
What they also need are realistic processes of change because not everything happens based on what is right. That means, some examples of how things changed before would be great.
Another great way is to run a simulation. That is, regional ministries can provide spaces for local teams to be guided into difficult conversations. The key requirement of these conversations is that a decision must be reached at the end.
3 – Show current examples
Finally, one big thing that we have to understand is that the Church is already in economically depressed and oppressed areas and economies.
These are not churches where things are being done “well,” per se. But, they are surviving. And, they are examples of what “downsizing” could mean for the Church overall.
The point is not to show these as goals to achieve – it’s to strategize on the innovation that might take place in those contexts.
What that strategy might include, perhaps, is how churches can work together so that such churches do better as well.