Let’s face it! Some churches are never going to recover from the decline they have allowed themselves to go into. It is time for churches to recognize if they are not making disciples and growing that they have failed to be what Jesus called them to be. The primary purpose of the church is to make people want to be students of Jesus Christ. That is what a disciple is, a student, a person that wants to learn about who and what Jesus is. There are a lot of people out there that are seeking a relationship with God. That is what a disciple of Jesus learns to have in their life. That is the primary purpose of the church and yet many are failing to make or develop disciples and are therefore declining and moving toward death.
As a pastor I am called to be with people when they are told that there is no longer any treatment that will help them and that they need to understand that they are not going to get any better than they are now. At some point many choose to enter hospice care. They recognize that they are dying and want to die with some comfort and dignity.
Is it time that some of our churches enter into hospice care? I believe that it is. I have been in a number of churches that have said something like “We don’t have the energy to do what needs to be done anymore” or “There are not enough of us to do what it would take to turn us around again.” I am not sure that I think either of those statements is really true. We always have the energy and the number of people to make new disciples. A small group of disciples that started out in and around Jerusalem 2000 years ago began to make a difference in the lives of those around them by living as they had been taught to live by Jesus and then teaching those things to others. We are the church today because they decided they had something important to share with others. The message hasn’t changed over all those years.
The fact is that some churches have no interest in making and growing disciples. They want to be cared for until they die. Maybe it is time to let them die with dignity and begin to allow that process to be recognized and cared for. When someone we love is told that they are terminal, we begin a process of grieving. What would happen if we started putting churches that are no longer making disciples and are not willing to develop a plan to on hospice care?
There are pastors out there that would be very good at doing hospice care for these churches. We could make sure they were able to die with dignity and that the resources are better invested somewhere that wants to reach out for new disciples and grow them as they enter the church. What would we have to do to train and prepare pastors and churches to enter the final stages of life?
It is time that churches either becomes disciple making churches that are growing in numbers or building disciples and using their facility to the fullest. If not it is time stop using resources that could better be used in churches that are answering the call go and make disciples.