Even if you do a google search, you end up with a map and some random church listing websites. Stukeley Baptist Church, in Richmond, VA is gone. Where you think you will find it, you will instead find Light Community Church, which has recently moved into their 7,400 square footbuilding on 3 acres of land…given to them by Stukeley Baptist.
As a 66 year old church full of older white folks, Stukeley Baptist was failing to reach the increasingly diverse community around their building. Only 20 people were regularly attending on Sunday mornings. This is a perfect storm for a declining church to dwindle and end up with a broken down ministry in a broken down building. The difference in Stukeley Baptist is that they loved their community and wanted them to know Jesus; so, just blindly continuing in their comfortable pews (with plenty of parking spaces!) until the fat savings accounts ran out was not an option. Instead, they became friends with Pastor Kimberly Ridley of Light Community Church, made sure their hearts were in line as churches, and straight up gave them their church building last July.
In a country where we have far too many zombie churches – churches that died a long time ago but they are still wandering around moaning and eating people’s brains (ht:Mark Driscoll) – this is the right option to continue a church’s mission, but in a new way, in a new culture and in a new day. There are piles and piles of money locked up in these zombie churches and in their savings accounts – they did faithful ministry for decades upon decades. Unfortunately, that was decades ago. There is not a resource problem in church planting and reaching people in America – but there is an allocation problem.
How amazing it would be if we heard more stories like this! Churches being churches! Existing for the world, and not for themselves. I’m definitely putting the members of Stukeley Baptist on my list of people I want to hang out with when we all go to heaven.