The Church Dilemma
Over the past 20 years of doing #CRE I have had the pleasure of opening a few churches. Unfortunately, the call I get most often is from churches looking to sell their buildings. You know the buildings. The big, tall, cathedral, angelic like buildings built in the center of the community. Built in a much simpler time. A time when people walked from place to place. And to church on Sunday mornings. When the church bells rang and the crowds busied in to find a seat.
Not so today. In most cases the church has been on a steady negative growth rate for the past 50 years. Here are some sobering statistics provided by http://www.churchleadership.org
~Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts!·
~There were about 4,500 new churches started between 1990 and 2000, with a twenty year average of nearly 1000 a year.
~ Every year, 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity. This translates into the realization that people are leaving the church.
~From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in the USA declined by almost 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 24 million (11 percent).·
~At the turn of the last century (1900), there was a ratio of 27 churches per 10,000 people, as compared to the close of this century (2000) where we have 11 churches per 10,000 people in America!
~The United States now ranks third (3rd) following China and India in the number of people who are not professing Christians; in other words, the U.S. is becoming an ever increasing "un-reached people group."
What has happened?· Given the declining numbers and closures of Churches as compared to new church starts, there should have been over 38,000 new churches commissioned to keep up with the population growth.
One thing is that technology has changed the way we receive services. Many churches now have a youtube channel. Also, how we pay the offering has changed and donations and tithes can now be given online. Even how we get to church has changed sense when these churches were built. When was the last time you walked to church? And those big buildings weren't built with parking lots in mind.
Luckily a few churches have figured in out and there actually is a growing multi-site church movement happening. But.......the real estate needs have changed and you wouldn't even know that some of the churches are in the office complexes and retail centers where you work and shop.