Closing the Doors – Part 2

imageClosing a congregation is agonizing, both on the people and on the pastor and his family.

My pain increased on Sunday when a member asked me this question:

Pastor, why is this happening to us?

I have prayed daily to God our Father that this question would never rear its ugly head. How does a pastor answer this question? How does a District President answer this question? How does the Synod President answer this question? I’d sure like to know.

As for me, I answered – unbelief. Just plain old sin (generally speaking). I added to my one word answer that I would not point fingers or lay blame on any particular individual, pastor, event, circumstance, or issue. I just answered – unbelief.

The next question asked of me was:

Pastor, what do you mean by unbelief?

Catechetical Review moment (smiling)

What is the First Commandment?
Answer: We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

As patient as I could, I gave examples of unbelief.

  • Actions such as worrying about money, how much you have, where it’s coming from, etc.
  • Mis-management of money and other gifts.
  • Worrying and fretting over the decline of membership.
  • Church growth programs.
  • Lay Leader programs.
  • Worry over the “stuff” instead of being about the things of God.
  • Antagonism.
  • Passive-aggressive attitudes. Here in Minnesota, they call it “Minnesota nice.”
  • Lack of learning the Word of God. Refusal to come to Bible studies.
  • Corporate modeling versus being Church.
  • Power struggles.

(by the way, the pastor and the congregation are both guilty of unbelief)


The devil is active in the lives of the Baptized. The devil uses such traumatic events to tempt Christians to reject God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Like I said before, I don’t have all the answers. I would love to think that the closing of a congregation will never happen again. I’d be lying to myself and to you. I do hope that the the leadership of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod comes up with something to help pastors and their flocks when this type of tragedy occurs. Until that day, I pray.

Come Lord Jesus. Come quickly come. Amen.

+ Pastor Wurst

p.s. This will be my last post as an under-shepherd of Christ until such day He Calls me into His service again.

Peace be with you.


Closing the Doors – Part 2 — 59 Comments

  1. @Kantor Dennis Boettcher #2
    I’ve never laid eyes on that church but the story brings tears to my eyes.

    In our area, several years ago we had two smaller churches that were struggling. At a circuit meeting, one of the young pastors suggested that perhaps the only way for both churches to survive was to unite. Neither church would consider it although they were in reasonable proximity to each other. Today one church has lost its property through foreclosure and the other is for sale and the congregation no longer exists. So sad. I don’t think that would have helped the congregation that Kantor Boettcher linked to but it could possibly be something other small congregations should swallow their pride and consider.

  2. @Abby #50
    One of my neighbors (unchurched) was attending a new church in the area for awhile and told us he liked it because “the band really rocks.” They attended for a short period of time and then started attending another church. I guess that band rocked even more. All of this was very short-lived and they are no longer interested in attending church. It was my experience when attending a church that was a big proponent of contemporary worship to entice visitors that many of those who were attending were there for the music and other programs. It also got to be a question of “what can we do next to bring them in.” Happily I have found a confessional church with traditional worship that faithfully preaches both Law and Gospel. The strange thing is that when my children came to visit, none of them enjoyed attending the CoWo church, even my college-aged daughter.

  3. helen :
    <a href="#comment-839436" rel="nofollow
    It may be happening in my Grandfather’s church in Minnesota, because where he and other members farmed 80-160 acres and raised large families (90 years ago), a few of the present generation have bought out their neighbors, assembled 1000 acres and are farming it with large machines and less manpower. And they are not raising large families. What would happen to their church is something they did not think about.

    This is exactly what is happening in my congregation and many rural parishes. I no longer have neighbors, most of the farmsteads that were here when I was growing up(I’m under 50) are now cornfields.

  4. Just a thought: Sometimes things happen to congregations that they cannot control. 22 years ago, the economic bottom came out of my small town. We lost 2,500 jobs in six months. With in the year the weekly attendance at my LCMS congregation dropped from 150 to 40-50 people. Most of the younger families moved leaving a small group of older, retired members in the church. Our pastor was always faithful but after a few years the congregation just couldn’t hang on and closed. it was really painful but I will always be grateful for my faith that nurtured in this congregation.

  5. too many in the LCMS are falling away from Divine Truth-thus working to close down more of our churches. they know the problems/sin EZ 33 but are refusing to use His Word to clean things up-before THE END

  6. @Mrs. Hume #49

    “Men need to do some things so that their sons and the sons of the congregation will follow. The more women do, the less the men do until the men see it as a women’s thing and then no men want to be a part of it. I wouldn’t want my sons to see women distributing communion, because they would then think it is a women’s thing and they wouldn’t want to help.”

    It sounds like the only reason you insist on this is to get the “sons of the congregation to follow.” So we should make rules about our worship services that carry the sole purpose of growing the congregation? It seems that you have a tiny plank to deal with there. I’m sorry, but we don’t get to make up rules not found in scripture and impose them on others.

    @Pastor John Wurst #20

    My prayer for you John: Psalm 37: 1-40

  7. @Reaper #6
    It sounds like the only reason you insist on this is to get the “sons of the congregation to follow.”

    And the problem you see with that is…?

    The head of the household is to teach the faith, by rote and by example.
    Luther assumed the head of the household to be a man.

    Men can’t wear the pants if women already have them on.

    (Conversely, some women do “wear the pants” because the men won’t.) [See Deborah.]
    But that’s the only reason for it, and it’s not a good one. [Deborah didn’t think so, either!]

    A study was reported recently that showed if fathers attended church children were more likely to be church goers. (If only mother attended, it had a negative effect.) So if the church in your place wants to survive for the next generation, get the men involved.

  8. @helen #7

    Everything you’ve noted here is correct, but none of these things move this issue out of the realm of christian freedom. To speak where God does not speak is sin and there’s no way around that.

  9. @Reaper #8

    Reaper, Please show me ANY place/verse in the Bible that shows women were called to perform any priestly function — or were called to perform any function of the disciples/Apostles — or elders/deacons?

    I take comfort in how Jesus treated women.

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