One of the options for a struggling (failing) church is to close the doors.  It’s sad when a church dies, sadder still when the meeting house is turned to office or residential condos, or is torn down for shopping mall parking.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

I remember an older church in Newton, Massachusetts, that dwindled to a handful.  They were renting space to the local denominational office and an immigrant church had been started for Sunday afternoons.  But when the pastor retired, they knew they could not keep up the maintenance.  It was a great historic treasure, including Tiffany stained glass windows, but the heating bills alone were more than the retirees’ offerings.

Their first thought was to sell the building, split the profits and go home.  But a godly man from the denomination helped them understand they were the caretakers of a spiritual resource, and they decided instead to give the building to the mission congregation, and then to stay on as a second, English-language congregation for the US-born children.   It continues to be a thriving congregation, rich in the heritage of both churches.

Tonite, I read about a similar gifting in Seattle.  An aging congregation of 50 worshippers chose to merge with a startup congregation of young adults, and then to gift them the building.  Quest church thus became the beneficiary of the generosity of Interbay Covenant Church.  Quest had been renting unused warehouse space from Interbay as their congregation, and as the pastors talked and prayed, over time, Interbay chose to gift their $8M facility to the tennant.

Interbay had a recognition that they had been started in 1954 by the generosity of others, and had been blessed greatly over the years.  They had once had over 200 children being ministered to, plus the adults.  Now facing a long-term decline, they decided to bless others the way they had been blessed.  They lived out 2 Timothy 2:2 – the things the first congregation had learned in the presence of many witnesses had been entrusted to Interbay, who were then able to teach the same to another.

It is an amazing story.  I commend it to you, to strengthen your faith.  Read about it here.

c2008 Mike Mitchell

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