Although their context in Canada is different from our experience in San Diego, their discussion about the challenge and possibilities of empty church buildings is relevant to our dream of starting new churches throughout the city and county.
These questions, in particular, stood out:
Are you fully utilizing the square footage within the walls of your church? Could rooms currently collecting dust be repurposed and provide opportunities for greater missional contact with people who don’t know Jesus?
Their frank discussion about changing our metrics of success offers an important shift in perspective. Instead of asking, Will people we reach midweek come through the doors on Sunday? it may be better to ask, What is our overall Kingdom impact?
Established churches play a significant role in creating an ecosystem for new churches to thrive — through gathering in prayer, identifying Discerners, sending new church Starters, or hosting a new church on your campus. Opening the doors of underutilized church buildings to new worshiping communities (or other organizations that work for the good of the city) “can improve relationships and unify a diverse community while creating opportunities for your church to grow its reach and share the gospel.”
Imagine if each church in our presbytery opened their door to a new worshiping community: that would double the amount of churches we are empowering in worship and witness in our region!
As Niewhof writes,
(Our) willingness to collaborate and share resources with others outside of the church – for the greater good of the community – and focus the ministry on the needs of the unchurched and people who have been hurt by the church… (can lead to) great opportunity to be a part of a huge awakening for those willing to get out of their comfort zone and put in the work to see a new community created.