Churches With "For Sale" Signs - Here's What Happened

There is a church building that is for sale down the street from my house. Weeds and vines have grown over from years of no maintenance being done.  The roof needs repairing.  The windows are boarded up.  The grass is overgrown with tall weeds.

When I drive past it, I often wonder what happened?  I imagine at one time it was a thriving, growing ministry.  The laughter and giggles of children echoed through the building.  Young parents conversed with each other.  You could hear the sweet sound of babies in the nursery. 

But gradually...over the years, the congregation begin to age.  The young families turned into middle-age families.  Their children grew up and went off to college.  Their children grew up and began to drop out of church.  

The "for sale" sign is there for one reason.  They didn't effectively pass along their faith to the next generation.  Many churches are headed for permanent retirement. They’ve failed to pass on the faith baton effectively. They felt hanging onto their songs that were written in 1921 was more important than engaging the next generation in worship. They weren’t willing to invest in children’s ministry, which could have attracted young families. They didn’t give the next generation the opportunity to lead and give input into the future of the church. They didn’t have a vision that was compelling enough to engage the next generation.

Passing on our faith to the next generation is a big deal in Scripture. Verse after verse addresses the importance of sharing our faith, by words and actions, with the next generation.

“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.”
Psalm 78:4

Why must we be so intentional about passing on our faith?  If we do not pass on the faith, we will lose the generation coming behind us.

Churches that have a future always have a deep investment in the next generation. They care more about reaching the next generation than they do about their personal preferences, worship styles and current status.

Eventually, they will have to close their church doors and put a for sale sign out front.

If a church is serious about their future, they will make next generation ministry a PRIORITY.

If a church wants to reach the next generation, they will PRAY for God to help them reach out and share the Gospel with young families.

If a church wants to impact the next generation, they will have their best volunteer PEOPLE serving in children’s ministry.

If a church wants to see their children’s ministry flourish, they will provide the necessary PROGRAM FUNDING.

If a church wants to show parents they care about children, they will have an excellent PHYSICAL SPACE for children.

If a church makes children’s ministry a priority, it will be very high PROFILE.

Here are some steps you can take to pass along the faith to the next generation. 

Build relationships with them. Young adults respond best to leadership that is grounded in relationship. Yes, they love coffee. Why?  Because coffee represents more than having coffee. It represents building a relationship through talking with another person.

Mentor them.  They want to be invested in by older leaders. Any church that is willing to reach out and invite the next generation of leaders to the table, can grow their church now and in the future. But churches that are afraid to leave their comfort zone and set aside their own preferences will not live beyond their current members’ life span.  I want to encourage you to do this - the next time you are at church, take a look around. How much gray hair do you see? Is the gray balanced with the edgy hair styles of youth as well?  I pray you will be passionate about reaching the next generation.                                    

Hold your “style of ministry” with open hands. Be willing to change. Be willing to adjust...even when the changes are not your preferences. The spiritual future of the next generation is depending on it. 

In my new book "Fertile Soil...see Kids' Faith Grow and Flourish for a Lifetime" I share how to create a church environment where children and young families can spiritually thrive and serve Jesus for a lifetime. 

You can get my new book at this link.  It's a must read if you want to reach the next generation and see them discipled and leading now and in the future.