Keeping House for the Lord Until the Doors Close

by Perry Hall

"Keeping house for the Lord" or, "The church is closing its doors". These are two phrases that you might have heard. A congregation, once in the 500s, is now "closing their doors." I just heard of another, once in the 500s, stopped meeting after COVID. Both were in the "Bible belt." Besides living in a PC (Post-Christian) age, what can we do?

First, remember that Christians thrived before there was a "Christian" age. On the whole, we have to stop blaming the society to whom God has sent us to preach Christ's saving message!

Second, the gospel contains both actions and words, so maybe we need to look at our own words and actions. Language can sometimes be unintentionally inarticulate. Language can also lead to articulating a better vision. Join me in this vision of Keeping House and the Open Door. "Keeping house for the Lord" is important in the sense of keeping God's house in order:

"But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).

When we "keep house", are we focused on the "church house" or God's "house?" Are we focused on having a physical presence in the neighborhood or a spiritual presence? Too much materialistic thinking can blind us to who is truly God's House. Too much inward focus can falsely satisfy that we are fulfilling a duty.

Then when "Keeping house for the Lord" inevitably results in "Closing the doors of the Church", how can we change that focus?

John 10:7 has Jesus saying, "I am the door" or "gate". When keeping the doors open, are we showing people The Door? Are we more interested in showing certain people the door -- as in get out? When someone walks through the door, are they invited to walk back out? Sometimes the invitation to leave is offered by the deafening silence "heard" in not welcoming them in. Dealing with people is dealing with problems. Evangelism is messy because people's lives are messy without the Lord. Learning to love is easy when we like people and they are mature believers. Learning to love is hard, takes sacrifice, and is painful when we don't get along and people need us for more than company. Just ask Jesus.

It is inevitable that some churches will cease to exist in certain locations.

  • Some deserve to close because of the carnage they've inflicted on themselves.
  • Others deserve to close because of indifference towards outsiders.
  • Some deserve to thrive but economics can impact congregations like it can families. But beware of changing locations of buildings because "the neighborhood is changing" (unless it is getting dangerous). I've never seen a neighborhood change to people without souls.
  • Other closing churches are in-between as to reason or a combination of many.

This is not a socio-economic-psychological expose. It's just a warning. This short observational article is not about whether churches should close, nor is it a blanket condemnation of those who have or will. My goal is to help us use our minds, tongues, feet, hands, and Bibles to articulate God's vision for a local church. In fact, just preaching truth can cause a congregation to either grow or cease to exist.

What's that message and vision? The Door is kept open into God's House.

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