VX Church: An Emotionally Healthy Closing Pt 1

Posted: August 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

As we begin the process of closing down our church and moving on to other congregations and life situations I am preaching a series on the Emotionally Healthy Church. The very first principle of emotional health is looking beneath the surface. After we suffered the loss of leaders and the loss of our facility many have encouraged us to continue on with the work and to trust in God and I truly appreciate the kind words and prayers. At the same time while the principles of the Emotionally Healthy Church apply to individuals within the church I have painfully applied these principles to our church as an organization. Looking beneath the surface has caused me and many of our leaders to see:

1. A church with a vision that was attached to a facility. In the end one of the main reasons for our closing was not just the loss of attendance but the loss of motivation. Motivation comes from vision. Our vision from the beginning was attached to Awakenings Coffeehouse and this was problematic. We had to face the facts that a majority of our people came because of and through Awakenings Coffeehouse. After we had to leave Awakenings we were faced with an identity crisis of monumental proportions. In the midst of this crisis we continued to keep going with the paradigm of ministry and direction which could not be sustained in light of such a loss. As a church we had experienced many setbacks over the years but this was crushing to our spirits.

2. A church that was not able to sustain its various ministies in light of its small amount of resources. We were doing way too many things for a church our size. This is not to say that there was not enough people or there was not enough money. It is just that we needed the right kind of leaders for specific ministries. We had leaders who were reluctantly leading small groups and other basic ministries. And in the end our Sunday morning service was understaffed with qualified people to help in many of the not so glamorous activities of set up and tear down, greeting, etc. Not to mention the fact that we were heavily active in mission and outreach. Once we recognized this we began to cut back on some things but by then it was too late. The damage had been done and many people have experienced pain and frustration because of it.

3. We had a lot of burned out and tired leaders who were experiencing a change in life stage. Many of us including myself have entered into a new period of adulthood. After close to ten years of laboring the church seemed to not only be going nowhere but going backwards. This can be very demoralizing especially when the demands of life are overwhelming as well. Getting married, fixing household appliances, and cleaning up your children’s vomit are enough to wear you out but when you tack on a church that is experiencing crisis then you enter into a new level of tiredness and discouragement. Too put it simply for many of us it was all too much at one time.

Looking underneath the surface in regards to our church has been painful but it also has been helpful. We did not close our church because God was not moving but because looking at it holistically-beneath the surface-we saw that it was unsustainable. We saw that at this point to continue on would be to foster an environment of unhealthiness.

For myself personally I had to look “beneath the hood” and I came to the conclusion that as a pastor of a church in the South Bay I really did not like the South Bay. I love the people of our congregation but outside of that I did not even like living in our community. That is a problem. I had been wanting to be somewhere else all along and did not realize how much of a toll that was taking on me.

So that’s where the first principle has taken us. I will write on the second principle next week: Breaking the Power of the Past

  1. Matthias LBJ says:

    VX was always a commute for me, except the first few times I came and when I heard about the fact that the first church I called home would be closing a friend asked me an important question:

    Do I want to go to a church near where I live or where I work? Where do I want to be active in the community?

    These thoughts are now deeper in my mind, as I reflect on your thoughts on the South Bay Ramon. I had an opportunity to explore this last year, but VX was still around and so I never made a commitment. Well I am glad to have read this and look forward to hearing you preach and teach Ramon, I will miss you and your family when you move. You know I will be finding an excuse to make a road trip out your way.

    • mayotron says:

      Matthias! Hey man I am glad that VX gave us the opportunity to connect and I know that the journey is not over. We will always have a space for you if you decide on a road trip ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Ramon – thank you so much for sharing this wisdom…I hope lots of pastors and church-planters read this (as we read Jason Coker’s postmortem when they closed down), so we can glean the wisdom…again, this is precious to someone like me…

    peace to you all through this process

    • mayotron says:

      Thanks Steven. I realize that this is as much for others as it is for me and that’s why I make it public. I survived in the hood because I learned from the mistakes of others and I’m hoping this can be a blessing for others as well.

  3. Marilyn says:

    Sobering. Thought-provoking. A grief shared. Important, that. Looking forward to your further thoughts, Ramon.

  4. […] doing and has been doing in our lives in relation to our decision to close. The first principle of Looking Beneath the Surface unearthed the painful reality of our condition as a church. The second principle, Breaking the […]

  5. […] is the last and final installment on the closing of our church. I just preached my last sermon at VX and I feel a flood of different emotions. Sadness at the […]

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