I am happy to announce that my book “Toward the Better Country: Church Closure and Resurrection” will be published, probably in 2014, by Wipf & Stock Publishers. I’ve added an “About the Book” page to the blog and I will keep it updated as I learn more about the book’s release.
I’ve been asked if the book is “like the blog”. The answer is no–in form, but yes–in function. While the blog is essentially a collection of short essays, the book is a cohesive whole, organized into sections, including:
- Some history on why churches have always been closing
- Expressions of grief and how they effect congregations as they come to terms with their decline
- Various ways lay leaders, clergy and judicatory leaders can assess the vitality and viability of their churches
- Creative options churches have found for continuing ministry in new forms after a significant decline
- Two accounts of congregations that proceeded with complete closure, each different and each relatively healthy
- Legal, financial and ecclesiastical steps churches take to pass on legacies in the process of a closure, merger or property sale
- Ways that Jesus modeled healthy relinquishment of ministry tasks
- Stories about how former churches are being used in new ways, and reflection on how Christ’s ministry itself does not “die” but is being regenerated in new forms that we are only beginning to glimpse.
The book includes scripture and discussion questions and a list of resources (developed by people smarter than I am) for churches looking to engage the future in new ways.
I’m thankful that Wipf & Stock has accepted this project, and I’m looking forward to sharing the great stories told to me by church leaders, including some of you. Thanks, everyone, for reading and sharing!