Churches in Trouble

I’ve spoken in the past about the number and variety of churches in my vicinity, in fact, I know I’ve mentioned that I have a Christian church right next to a Muslim mosque.  That’s no longer the case though, the Christian church has gone out of business and it looks like the mosque is right  behind them. 

Yes, that's the actual church I've been talking about.
Yes, that’s the actual church I’ve been talking about.

I’ve realized for a while that the landscaping at the church was woefully neglected but today I saw “For Sale” signs out, apparently they’re done. I went looking online for the church to see if they had just moved and apparently, they’re now officially out of business.  The mosque, who had a big blue sign out front, has moved the sign behind some trees, such that if you didn’t know to look for it, you’d never realize that the building, which is little more than a house with a large parking lot, was really a place of worship.  I haven’t paid a lot of attention but I can’t tell you the last time I saw more than one or two cars in their parking lot.  Maybe they’re defunct too.

I’ve also mentioned that there was a large sign announcing the new construction of a Korean Seventh Day Adventist church on my street (it’s a very long street), but that’s gone now too.  Likewise, I can’t find any record of the church that was supposedly moving there to be in existence at all.

This prompted me to look online for churches for sale in my town.  Now I don’t live in a huge metropolis but there are tons of churches here, literally at least one on every major street.  What I found was surprising to say the least.  I found seven churches on the auction block.  There was a Catholic church, a Seventh Day Adventist church (not the one above), A Restoration-Covenant church, a Church of Christ, something called “Family Christian”, another one called “Trinity Church”, and one I couldn’t identify the specific sect.  Wait, if I include the church in the picture, that makes 8 churches since it’s not listed among the ones I found online ads for.  The local Berean bookstore is out of business too and up for sale.  Expanding this to just local cities, the number expands to 67 churches for sale.  That’s just in cities I can drive to in 15 minutes or less.

Wow.  I knew religion was falling apart but this is ridiculous!  I suppose that as a rational atheist, this should be very good news and to be sure, I’m not disappointed, but religion is falling apart far faster than I had predicted. I didn’t think it would reach this level of free-fall until my daughters were adults.  Now, there may be few churches remaining by the time they’re old enough to be married.  This is a very good thing.

So what’s it like in your area?  Are there fewer churches today than there were 5 years ago?  Is religion ready to be forked?  I certainly hope so.

9 thoughts on “Churches in Trouble

  1. That is some encouraging news! Unfortunately, I haven't observed anything like what you describe here in Mississippi. Then again, considering that we remain the most religious state in the U.S., I can't pretend to be surprised. I haven't noticed many new churches being built, but there already seems to be one on every corner. I wish I had data on the attendance at some of the local churches to see whether there was any measurable decline in their numbers. I figure we are at least 10 years behind the rest of the country when it comes to most things and maybe more when it comes to religion.

    My recent post Importance of Religion Declining in U.S.

    1. I expect the deep south to remain behind everyone else for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, there are some significant pockets of ignorance out there and they're going to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century whether they want to go or not. However, I think its a promising sign that so many surveys show religion is falling apart, at least that means in national politics, religion will be a much less important thing and we might be able to focus on reality instead of religious fantasy.

  2. From what I understand it seems these mega churches are moving their business into other countries. In South Korea for example there are still massive churches been built, and I know the problems (read churches) in Africa are getting bigger as well.
    My recent post The Noah disclaimer

    1. I don't know that they're moving overseas, certainly the biggest megachurch in the world is in South Korea and there are new ones springing up all over the place, but I haven't seen that churches are closing down in the U.S. and springing up again elsewhere. I think that all of the "social Christians" that I've talked about before who claimed to believe for social and not religious reasons are realizing they don't have to pretend anymore and are flooding out of the churches, causing them to close. We are eventually going to be down to just the hardcore theists, the ones who really buy into the bullshit and that's when the real work begins.

  3. Could be just market consolidation. Are there any mega churches in your area expanding? Maybe driving the mom and pop churches out of business?

    1. Not that I can tell, most of these churches that are going out of business seem to be pretty major churches, especially the Catholic Church that's a huge, huge building. I admit I haven't done a census of churches but I haven't seen any new ones opening or demonstrably growing.

  4. In order to look like they are large in number smaller churches are combining together to form MegaChurches in Mega buildings. That's what's happened in our small rural town. Its such a sweet occurrence as all these hateful bigots are crammed together in one MegaChurch where they are forced to pretend to get along. There's going to be a mass exodus from these MegaChurches one day as the hate and bigotry blows the roof off their fake fellowships toward each other.

    My Christian relatives and friends are so used to getting mad at one church and moving to another that as their numbers decrease and the number of churches to run to every time you get upset is dwindling an internal corruptionis eating away at the body of Christian bullshit.

  5. Just a guest to your site and stumbled in looking for pictures of derelict or for sale churches.

    It is genuinely fascinating to see how many churches small towns tend to have & how often they are related to each other, or result from arguments from each other. What a sad waste of energy and resources to continually take your ball and go home, and build a whole other church so it can be just the way some small group of myopic, selfish people want it.

    I wonder, though, how hard you guys are looking into the churches with LONG records of stability and relevance in their communities. For all the silly little petty churches and failed ones, aren't there even more that are soldiering on and serving the needs of their communities? Isn't there a great deal of good to be said for the church people who are committed to their neighborhoods & weather the storms of culture or society based on something they believe to be true?

    Maybe I'm just an optimist but it seems like these failed churches and for sale churches represent the loss of something that ought to be lost. The great, or just even good, ones that remain may be proving something after all. We may all want the people who disagree with us to encounter disappointment or failure, but for Christian people to act that way essentially nullifies their claims to be authentic now doesn't it? The gracious churches that remain just seem to have earned the benefit of the doubt–I say anyway.

  6. Last summer our coegnrgation, FCC Sterling, sent a youth mission group to Grand Junction (we went with youth from FCC Fort Morgan), to Ecuador (we went with a group from FCC Plano, TX), and to a reservation in New Mexico (where we worked alongside many others from the region). This year we are putting in a shower at our own church where we can host groups who might be wanting to do mission in CO. I feel led to do more local mission, so my question you all is two-fold: Is there anyone out there who would like to lead a mission group to the Northeastern Plains of CO in the near future and If you are planning an international mission trip would you like to have people from my church join you, so they can have that experience? How can we get connected?

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