Gone for Good?

written by Kat Bair
1 · 25 · 24

Mark Elsdon, minister, author, and co-founder of Ministry Incubators partner Rooted Good says that 100,000 churches are set to close by 2030, and that that could be really good news for our communities.

Elsdon, who’s first book, We’re not Broke, we covered on the blog several years ago, just released Gone for Good? Negotiating the Coming Wave of Church Property Transition. It is a collection of essays based around a simple question: given that a great many number of these churches will close, how could we, as leaders of those churches, make sure that whatever happens to the property makes a positive impact on the communities we love? 

The reality he highlights is that by doing nothing, we are ensuring that our church buildings – often beautiful, historic, landmarks of a neighborhood – will fall into disrepair as vacant lots, or will be bulldozed by real estate developers with no investment in the area. 

We have the chance to write a different story. We’ve covered these kind of projects on the blog – an old Abbey-turned-skatepark, a suburban UMC-turned-art studio, a dual point charge-turned-affordable housing – and all the learnings turn on this same key insight that Elsdon is talking about: we can serve our communities as the people of God in a lot more ways than Sunday morning service. 

When we think about these churches closing, it causes a lot of grief, and it should, those places were important avenues of transformation for generations of people. But the book’s message is one of hope: they still can be avenues of transformation, just through different mediums. 

But the only way that happens is if we start working on it now, while the doors are still open. 

Gone for Good recommends taking time to understand the needs of your community, the resources currently available in your community, and what your church has to offer. The book also points to the other actors who can make this work easier, and highlights ways that civic leaders, philanthropists, and public policy makers can partner with churches to make this a transition that truly feels like a gift to the community. 

You can hear him explain the book in more detail here, 

And the book is now available for purchase here. So you know, these are not affiliate links. We at Ministry Incubators are big fans of Rooted Good and think Elsdon’s book is great, and we’re just promoting it because we like it. If you want to support Rooted Good in a way that also supports Ministry Incubators, their game Mission Possible is available for sale here.

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Kat Bair

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