What to Do With Empty Churches

A small and shrinking congregation often has the most beautiful religious architecture.

 

Wall Street Journal, January 2019

By Karl Zinsmeister

 

Wander any large U.S. city and you’ll spot a serious mismatch. Majestic old houses of worship have only vestigial congregations. Without their endowments these cathedrals, chapels and synagogues couldn’t keep the lights on.

Meanwhile, those same cities have booming evangelical fellowships, traditional Catholic gatherings, Korean congregations, Spanish-language flocks and swelling numbers of Lubavitch Jews. These and other rising groups are too young to enjoy the inherited resources of shrunken assemblies. Instead they meet in auditoriums, theaters or strip malls. Some worship on Saturdays or at night, in sanctuaries rented from mainline churches.

In New York, Tim Keller’s Redeemer Church has congregations worshiping in a converted underground garage, a Salvation Army center, a college auditorium and other improvised locations. Falls Church Anglican in Virginia has for years convened in a public school and a suburban office building while struggling to erect its own sanctuary. In Los Angeles, one congregation of the Pacific Crossroads Church meets at Santa Monica High School, another gathers in a town recreation center, and a third rents a cathedral during off hours.

 

Read the full article here.

For more stories on faith and giving, read the Winter 2019 issue of Philanthropy magazine.