First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
On October 7th, a number of us went to Hoxie and heard a presentation about the future of ministry in western Kansas.
It’s a long story as to why this is an issue, but the short version is that the number of people in church on Sunday morning is not what it used to be. And as simple math will tell you, declining numbers and increasing costs are not a good combination.
So what does the future look like? Well, eventually, something will change, either because we as a group bring about the change, or because time and circumstance force the changes. What does that change look like? Well, here are some options, although to be sure, these are not the only options.
- Multi-point parish. This is perhaps the most familiar in that we are already doing this; but think beyond 2; think of what a 3 point parish might look like, or even a 4 point parish. This would hearken back to the olden days of a circuit rider.
- Hub and wheel model. In this option, one large church would call additional pastors and staff, and serve multiple churches in a given area, each of which would chip in on the cost of the pastor and staff.
- One church would have the pastor present with them, and then other churches would watch on a screen at their location. The pastor would rotate around from church to church each week.
- Meet in the middle. Everyone would come to a central location and meet for worship.
Questions likely abound in your minds; let me try to answer some of them:
- Can all this happen on Sunday morning? In some cases, yes; but otherwise not really. Church might need to be on Saturday night or on Sunday afternoon, or at other times depending on time and travel.
- What about Lord’s Supper? Well, again that would depend, but likely you would only celebrate Lord’s Supper when the pastor was present with you, which might be only once a month (think Circuit Rider model).
- What about all the other stuff pastor does? Ultimately it would likely be a situation where the pastor does the Word and sacrament ministry, and all else fell to the leadership of the congregation (bulletins, calendar, etc.)
- When can we expect this to happen? Not today; and maybe not for a while; but in the next 5-10 years, you should really expect this to be an issue as population continues to decline and costs increase.
- What’s the good news? Glad you asked! The good news is the same good news that we always have; the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. The good news is that the lifesaving Gospel of Christ crucified and risen, and the Word and sacraments that grant forgiveness of sins and eternal life still work; whether there are only 2 or 3 gathered or 200; and whether they gather on Sunday morning, or on some other day of the week at some other time. The Gospel is still here for you, and it still does exactly what it says and has always done.
If you have more questions, or if you would like to discuss these options further, please feel free to contact me, and I would be happy to discuss them further.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt