Pastor not superhero to save church
    March 22 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    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 themselves.

    “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 come easy.

    “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.

    The multi-bivocational 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,” said Ester.

    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 trend.

    “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.”

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    3/22/2010 8:05:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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