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Churches sell their buildings to focus on congregational health

“The church is not the building,” the old saying goes, and more and more congregations are taking that to heart.

A trend of churches selling their buildings and properties to gain more financial stability and seek more growth and missional focus has developed in recent years.

Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas, and Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Hills, Mich., are a part of this ongoing trend of churches who are opting to sell their current buildings as part of an ongoing shift away from focusing on their physical spaces and towards outreach and financial stability. In doing so, they say their congregations have become more healthy and strong.

Cheryl Mann Bacon with The Christian Chronicle writes:

The Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas and the Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Hills, Mich., are selling buildings that once welcomed thousands to continue ministry by smaller but still active congregations.


Highland Oaks, in the 1970s and 1980s, was one of the largest congregations in Texas, peaking at 2,000 members or more.


The Rochester Church of Christ, adjacent to Rochester University, had about 1,000 members at its peak. The congregation now includes roughly 300 family units, which longtime elder Burt Rutledge says represents about 425 members.


The sales in Texas and Michigan reflect a national trend that will become increasingly common, said Stan Granberg, trustee and vice chairman of the Heritage 21 Foundation.


The church growth scholar said the foundation — established to help dying congregations achieve renewal or secure a legacy — talked with about 20 churches last year that had reached a point where they couldn’t take care of their buildings.


“Churches are going to be smaller, and buildings are so expensive,” Granberg said. “Churches will downsize or move into rented space or close their doors.”


Many congregations today, Granberg said, are 20th century churches that are not able to transition to 21st century realities.

Read the full article here.

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