Back to the Future

Congregations in traditional mainline denominations are struggling with how to adapt to smaller and smaller congregations.  Thanks to Bernie for  sharing this article, relating how a married pastor couple serves five congregations between them in a return to an older form  of pastoral care and support in America, the circuit rider.

While some shrinking congregations close, and others merge together with another congregation, others maintain their history by sharing not a ministry per se, but a pastor.  This is more common in the midwest (at least in my denomination), where a single pastor may serve two or three parishes in  a rural area.  But even out here in sunny southern California, I know a pastor who now  serves two congregations just a few miles apart.   They aren’t willing to merge – yet.  But they can each survive a bit longer alone by paying for one pastor between them.

Along with pastors increasingly becoming bi-vocational, it’s one solution to a problem that isn’t going away any time soon, and is going to get more severe before it gets better.  Congregations need to face the future and begin actively seeking the best ways to ensure their congregation’s ministry can continue as long as possible.  The solutions will look different depending on context and a variety of other factors, but I much prefer this sort of creativity (even if it’s forced) as opposed to just closing up shop by refusing to change.

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