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Renewing Older Churches

If your church is over 40, you'll need a plan to stay fit.

One church I know took root in a traditional middle class neighborhood and thrived throughout the 1950s. Then neighborhood changed and became a haven for artists, musicians, and New Agers. The church declined in membership and attendance throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

A new young pastor was called to lead a turnaround. He spent time in the coffee shops and storefronts, building relationships. He offered a Bible study in a pub that resulted in several people leaving lifestyles marked by witchcraft and sex and drugs to become Christians. A few of these people were invited into leadership roles in the church.

Some of the longtime members began organizing clandestine meetings to discuss grievances. Their primary concern was not doctrine but that if present trends continued, the church would lose its historic identity as a middle class congregation and become a hodge-podge of misfits who spoke and dressed oddly.

The behind-the-scenes meetings eventually led to open meetings in which the new pastor ...

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