Saturday, March 10, 2012

Churches being foreclosed on in increasing numbers

This is a sad story. But there is a hopeful side. :)

Banks foreclosing on US churches in record numbers
"Banks are foreclosing on America's churches in record numbers as lenders increasingly lose patience with religious facilities that have defaulted on their mortgages, according to new data. The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance. Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group. In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before. black and white, but with small to medium size houses of worship the worst. Most of these institutions have ended up being purchased by other churches. The highest percentage have occurred in some of the states hardest hit by the home foreclosure crisis: California, Georgia, Florida and Michigan."

This is a church in GA that has a hard time to keep going. It has been opened, closed, sold, renovated, closed again...

When I first arrived in Georgia, I was astounded to see the number of churches that seemed to adorn each corner. "There are a lot of churches," I thought. "This must be a very religious place."

When I traveled on the ice breaking ship Relais Nordik to Blanc Sablon on the border of Quebec and Labrador/Newfoundland, there was a church on the tundra. Its white clapboard stood out starkly against the springy green tundra moss.

To help you get a picture of where Blanc Sablon is, here is a map--

I thought, "Wow, the church is so far-reaching, even the tiniest place at the edge of the continent has a church."

It is easy to identify the church with the buildings that we see. And for a large part, it is. We are commanded to congregate as Hebrews 10:25 tells us. It is the building where we praise Jesus, sing, minister, tithe, encourage each other and hear the Word. It is appropriate to identify the building where we do those things with the church itself. But be careful not to exclusively identify His church with the buildings we commonly see.

But the building is not the Church. His body of believers is the Church. (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:12, Hebrews 13:3).

We are told that the church will grow weaker and less effectual as we near the end, and that many who were only Christians on the outside will fall away. (Revelation 3:8; 2 Thes. 2:3). We are seeing that now. Youths are leaving the church in droves, people are falling away from regular attendance, and in general the buildings are less and less central to a community's spiritual and moral compass. It is no wonder that in these apostate times that church buildings, with the maintenance required, cannot be maintained. You can't pay a pastor and support a building with only 50 people tithing.

But the Church is the body of believers scattered worldwide! We will soon be gathered to Him in the rapture and the dead resurrected, and the glorified saints of the Church Age will be in heaven, finally together in Him. No matter how empty your church building is becoming, remember that His Church is spotless, full, glowing, sanctified, holy, and He is as eager to gather us as a hen is to gather her chicks. (Luke 13:34).

Yes, it is sad that churches are failing. With the power given to us by the Holy Spirit, nothing should be impossible for us in Him (Mark 9:23). Christians should be more energized as they grow, not less. But the world has caught us, and many are falling and the churches with them. But His Church will never fail! Because the Church is not the building! Yes, churches are on every corner, yes churches are all across the world. The buildings are not His Church.

"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." (Matthew 16:13-18)


  1. The borrower becomes a slave to the lender. Why would the church want to start out indebted to the world? Again and again I see around me churches that have a tendency to wink at sin or turn a blind eye to sin so that people won't leave with their donation's putting the organization of the church under the authority of mammon. Christ was right you cannot serve two masters.

  2. Jeff, you're so right. Good thoughts. One thing I've noticed is that churches have become overextended lately because they inadvisably hopped on the Youth culture bandwagon. Suddenly the churches around where I live are renovating or adding on so that their youth can have a space like a darkened loft where the Beats used to hang out and jam to Kerouac poetry. These building additions have fancy lighting, sound stages, concert quality amplifiers, couches to hang out on etc. All some of these places need is a booth and Phil Spector creating a Wall of Sound.

    Here is an essay/video interview from the Gospel Coalition on "The Idolatry of Youth Culture in Worship".

    In the 15 min interview they talk about the current entrapments of youth in America, whether it be fashion or music or celebrity culture etc. and they get into a hamster wheel of always needing to be fresher or onto the next new thing. Sometimes the next new things means spending a lot of money to satisfy the wants and lusts of Youth in the church space to make it sensuous rather than worshipful


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