Everyone’s talking about the weather in the Mid-West. “Worst winter in decades,” they say.
Which isn’t quite true. Worst winter in terms of accumulated snow and ice over the last couple of years, but long-timers will tell you that this winter looks a lot more like what it used to look like almost every winter.
What’s been interesting is the number of church closings for weather … and more to the point, who closes and who opts to stay open.
I’ve been watching the churches in the Kansas City area, where there’s been a good bit of nasty weather, and taking notice of which churches close in times of inclement weather.
It seems that most small churches close.
And most larger churches remain open.
There are those who might conclude, “That’s because small churches have mostly older members than those big churches.”
And in general, they’d be correct.
The smaller churches tend to close, they say, to protect their members from driving or walking in hazardous conditions. That seems very noble of them.
Does that mean larger churches are calloused and don’t care about their members?
I don’t think so. In fact, there’s a core value at work here that’s important not to miss.
Small churches, by and large, place their priority on their existing members.
Larger churches, again by and large, place their priority on those “members” who aren’t there yet.
Honestly, the small churches aren’t expecting visitors on almost any Sunday, and certainly not when there is a possibility of icy or snowy roads.
On the other hand, the larger churches expect visitors every Sunday … even on bad-weather days. You just never know when a spiritual crisis will drive an unchurched person out of their house and into the church seeking answers to their deepest wounds and darkest fears.
When I speak to larger church leaders and ask them about the dangers of dented fenders and broken hips because of bad weather, they’ve generally responded, “We expect our members to consider the weather, the road conditions, and their mobilization abilities to make an informed and wise decision about their attendance.” Or words to that effect. And to be fair, there’s no expectation that every member will show up every time the doors are open.
Don’t get me wrong … there are no easy answers, but it got me to thinking …
… is it possible that larger churches got that way because they almost never close for almost any reason?
… Or is there a larger issue at play here?
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