Michael Ester sees more
church closings in the future “because the landscape is changing, and churches
that fail to make some fundamental changes are dying.”
Ester, who is associational
missionary for Liberty Baptist Association, said most churches are fooling
“Most of them know that
they’re not growing but they don’t consider themselves as dying,” he said.
“They don’t seem concerned
about it as long as it doesn’t affect the money.”
He knows change does not
“I hate if for these
churches because it is a traumatic experience,” he said.
Trinity Baptist Church in
Welcome, which was formed in 1981, recently disbanded.
Ester said he’s working with
another church now “but someone has thrown a wrench in it.”
For some it is hard to give
up power, but they do see the loss.
In the 1950s Ester said one
man might lead two or three churches.
pastor might be leading the way into the future, he said.
Trinity gave its building
and assets to another church in the association.
“Most of them want to hang
on,” said Ester, who celebrates his 10th anniversary at the association next
month. “They are avoiding the inevitable. It’s going to come down to there’s
six people in the pew.”
For those who grew up in
that church and hung on all these years, it is hard to admit the problem.
“Our current buildings have
been paid for by previous generations,” said Ester. “I think there’s a lot of
churches right on the edge … where they have only a little money left.”
They might have $60,000 in
the bank and between 10-20 people in the pews. Many think if they can pay for a
preacher and lights they are set. “The problem is they are still in a hole,”
That church has no Sunday
School leaders, no children’s programs, no music leader.
“What’s their choice?” Ester
said. “A preacher is not going to be the hero and suddenly you’ve got people.
There’s nobody that dynamic.
“If he’s that dynamic he’s
going to a bigger church.”
Ester said this is a growing
“These new church starts,
they don’t really realize how much money it takes,” he said.
With property and buildings
costs easily skyrocket into the millions.
“They think they can do it
themselves,” he said.
“I’ve seen churches that are
dying and so they have this mentality that they need a young man whose
inexperienced to be a pastor of people who are not there.”
Hiring a pastor to attract
young people sends a bad message to the congregation that might be over 50.
“They are setting themselves
up for a church fight or disappointment,” he said.
“(The pastor’s) not the
magic bullet. They are going to have to sit down and think about their vision.”