How many christians make up a church : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

There is a situation in New Jersey where a church of 5 members are being pressured to merge into a larger church. The 5 are pastored by an itinerate deacon, and the relationship is good, but instead of helping the church grow, the conference seems to be wanting to swallow them up. What do you what point is a church too small to be a church?

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2001


I guess the key question is, are the remnant of 5 the type of people who will work for increase? They may be 5 praying evangelists, or they may be 5 people marking time. What's the potential?

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2001

I agree that that is a key question. I have seen these people work. They are not just marking time, I assure you. But keeping spirits up when others are telling you to close down is difficult.

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2001

Rev. Hill I have no doubt God will work the situation out for this small church. About 15 years ago I was a member of a United Methodist Church and we had 7 members. The Bishop was going to close the church we were very unhappy for we felt we were faithful followers of Christ. The Bishop pointed out that every month we were at the bank trying to extend the deadline for our mortage payment, the boiler did not work, the pastor wasn't getting paid, all of our energy was spent in trying to pay bills. It was exhausting and wearing everyone out. When the Bishop said he was going to close the church it acutally provided an opportunity for us to develop a long range plan which we then submitted to the Bishop. By the way that church is in New York City and is still open. One of the things the church did during the week was rent out the building for programs to the community, not only did it generate money but the church name was always in the paper and people came to check us out. We asked for help from other churches to help with managing finances. Some of us took classes in fixing boilers and electrical repair so that we could maintain the church ourselves. It took time, but the first order of business was to come up with a feasibility plan and to work with the Bishop. The five people in the church deserve our prayers as do the faithful pastor God sees this small church and God may have some big plans for them!

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2001

My denomination has two kinds of churches: Home mission projects, also known as church plants, and mature, sovereign churches. The line is generally drawn at about 25 mature Christian members with the ability and willingness to serve. The presence of capable lay leadership embodied in the board is especially crucial.

The first type of church is treated as a new work and operates under a set of rules that treat it something like a newborn baby. The section is responsible for the church, taking ultimate responsibility for legal matters. The pastor is considered a missionary, and a set of rules are in effect that assume the congregation cannot support itself financially, and maybe spiritually. The idea is this group requires extra attention and investment for a while.

Once the pool of mature workers grows, the church "grows up". They're like an adult responsible for themselves, and a new set of rules kicks in. Should the day arrive where the number of mature members slips below 25 the bylaws provide for the section taking back over. Again, the church will be treated like a new missionary work, and it'll receive that extra level of tender loving care at the hands of the sectional staff.

It seems to me that if it's decided to retain this church everyone needs to consider it a pioneer work again, and treat it accordingly. If they truly have that missionary spirit, give 'em a hand.

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2001

The AME chuch has a similar structure.

This church should be classified as a mission and allowed time to decide for themselves what is in their best interests. As a mission they would be exempt from paying connectional claims and could focus on their work

Best of luck

THe Mole

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

It's interesting to me that a Bishop of our Zion or a Presiding Elder of long expeerience has not ventured to answer the question posed by this Pastor. It appears that brother Price's denomination has, at least, a formulated guide line to assist with such a phenomena. Our book of Discipline (1996) under Part IV on Church Membership, Section IV entitled PROCESS FOR STARTING A NEW CONGREGATION, p.91, gives no intimation as to "how many persons" constitute a Church or a quorum. As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the Discipline related to Church Plantin or Church Closing. So, for the information of you my brothers and sisters in this Zion, there is an excellent website ( that can at least give you some food for thought on this subject. I quote just a few of the opening lines that says, "The decision to close a church should be approached cautiously realizing that God is capable of renewing any church that is willing to change." Additionally, it is stated that "One of the most difficult decisions for any church leader to make is when to close a church. Yet, it is estimated that a minimum of 1% of all Protestant churches close each year in the United States. This means between 3,000 and 4,000 churches are closed annually." There is an excellent list of 10 Indicators for Church Closure which you may wish to take a look at, as well as a list of 10 objective evaluative questions you may wish to answer. Let me close with these stated four types of churches that are prone to close: 1) New church plants that fail 2)Churches that lose their vision 3)Churches with serious attendance loss, and 4) Churches that become ineffective. I offer this for you edification and information.

Peace, Rev. Harold L. Turner

-- Anonymous, February 13, 2001

The last time I looked in the Bible when there are two or three gathered in Jesus name, so is he in the midst. They shouldn't merge, pray and seek the Holy Ghost to enlarge their tents and expand thier boarders, meaning get more people in the house.

-- Anonymous, February 13, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ