Meet the pastor who’s on a mission to save thousands of dying American churches

"Pastor Marzahn, 55, believes helping churches find new ways to generate income, like sharing their buildings with other churches or finding completely new congregations to take over old buildings is a better response than selling dying churches to for profit developers who have no vested interest in cultivating Christian communities." - Christian Post

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Larry Nelson's picture


...I was greatly puzzled by this article at first.  I was thinking, "Crossroads Church in Lakeville?  In Inver Grove Heights?  Pastor Paul Marzahn?"  (None of those things sounded correct to me.)  Turns out that the OP article is talking about a completely different "Crossroads Church" than the one I am familiar with. 

The Crossroads Church discussed in the OP article is this one (which is a United Methodist church):


The Crossroads Church I was previously familiar with is this one (which is an evangelical, multi-site church):  

Bert Perry's picture

My first thought is that maybe if he attended to peoples' spiritual needs, there would be fewer churches emptying out, but my second thought is that as I point that finger, there are four pointed back at me.  We also need to contemplate whether the capital we possess is owned and used by us, or whether it owns us.

We might also ask the question  of whether some of those old Methodist churches Pr. Marzahn is trying to unload might make good locations for a Baptist congregation.  Granted, given that the MARBC is already fairly capital-rich and people-poor to begin with, that is not a gimme that "our tribe" could be a credible purchaser.  That noted, church properties tend to go relatively inexpensively because its distinctives--high ceilings, stained glass, delayed maintenance--are not that attractive to most homeowners or businesses.  Plus, older church properties tend to be conveniently located in the center of town.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry Nelson's picture

This phrase from the OP article is interesting to me: "helping churches find new ways to generate income."

Question: Whether "dying", financially stable, or thriving, in what ways (if any) would your church be willing to generate additional income?

Speaking in an unofficial capacity for my church, here's what we currently do, or have been asked to do:

  • 1 and 1/2 days per week during the school year we provide meeting space (12 classrooms & a study hall/lunchroom) to a Christian homeschool coop that is not operated by our church.  We charge them a very nominal fee, which is intended to merely cover the cost of utilities, custodial services, and the like.
  • Nearby to us is a hospital & clinic which is in the midst of a year-long expansion project.  During construction, a portion of their parking lot is closed as a staging area.  Since we have 900 parking spaces that are for the most part not in use on Monday - Friday from 9 - 5, they offered to lease a 96-spot section of our lot for offsite parking for clinic staff.  We agreed to do so, for a nominal fee.  Even at a modest $2 per vehicle per day, over a one year period this will come to around $48,000 in extra income to the church.
  • We have a 1,146 seat main auditorium that is less than one year old, and a 532 seat auditorium that we recently refurbished.  We have gotten inquiries from various groups wanting to know if they can rent our facilities for different events.  We haven't done so, but I personally wouldn't be opposed to doing so for certain events that would not be considered antithetical to our beliefs.  (We have provided our facilities gratis to a couple of other local churches for funerals that had attendance exceeding the other church's capacity.)