When I lived off Gate Parkway, most of the businesses around my apartment were franchises or small startup businesses. The economy has not been especially nice to either group. Some have remained and some have closed. One business literally closed their doors over night. And yet, some have remained open despite the hardship of the last few years.
Now that I live in Avondale, I see the same variety of franchises and small businesses. But many of the closed businesses appear to have been small ‘mom and pop’ stores. I heard that one store closed after 30 years in the Murray Hill area. I cannot imagine pouring your life into something after pouring so much of your life into it.
All of this connects to churches for me. I am aware of new church plants that had to close after a few years of ministry. I am also aware of churches who are no longer able to continue operating after serving an area for 50 years. Neither context is easy to deal with and both have their explanations.
Very few people are okay with letting their dream die (business, church, or whatever). But the question that is always hard to ask is simply this: why? Or more specifically: why should we exist tomorrow? The question is simple, though the answer is not. The ‘because we have a long history here’ answer only really works for museums and historic tours. Being a thriving organization yesterday is not a free pass for open doors tomorrow. The hard (and arguably unfair) lesson of the last decade may be that tenure does not entitle anyone to a secure future. Every organization will have to answer the ‘why we should exist’ question or they will be doomed to becoming a memory.
The fight for existence can never be avoided. Knowing the ‘why’ will make all of the difference.