Within the fellowship of the Churches of Christ, we have recognized a need that is not being met anywhere else.
This need, that has become so evident in recent years, is to help declining or dying churches to do so with dignity and with good stewardship. As is highly evident from the triennial publication, Churches of Christ in the United States, published by 21st Century Christian, the number of congregations in our fellowship nationwide is declining at an ever-increasing rate—for the past 15 years at about 30/year and more recently at about 50/year. And many more are no longer vibrant or effective in telling the wonderful story of Jesus or ministering to their communities.
Most such congregations, by the time they reach a critical stage in their lifecycle, are perhaps too bound by emotion or conflict or moribund, that they cannot adequately deal with such matters. Ideally, we would hope that some of those congregations would be able to be revived and continue to be effective. The evidence is, however, that a large majority will not be able to do and have perhaps reached the end of their natural life cycle, and as Solomon would say, “it is a time to die, a time to uproot, a time to kill, a time to tear down, a time to weep, a time to mourn, a time to scatter stones, a time to give up, and a time to throw away.”
As a result of what we are seeing happened, we have been encouraged to form a new non-profit entity to try to deal with these delicate issues:
(i) assist and advise congregations struggling with survival to make sound, healthy decisions about their future;
(ii) assist them as needed in protecting their faithfully accumulated resources; and
(iii) provide financial support to and encourage a new generation of US churches and other kingdom expanding efforts.
To meet this need we have formed the Heritage 21 Foundation—a name suggested because of our desire to honor our fellowship heritage in the 21st Century.