Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
local church closure, church closure, church death, systems, strategies, pastoral leadership
Christianity | Practical Theology
Sherwood, Christopher E., "The Final Amen: Designing and Implementing a Christlike System for the Closure of WayPointe Christian Fellowship" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4033.
Like a myriad of other churches across the country, WayPointe Christian Fellowship (WCF) experienced a long decline leading to a critical question: Should the church permanently close? In the case of WCF, the answer was yes, which led to other questions about how to accomplish the task while maximizing God's glory, minimizing the pain felt by those involved, and preparing the congregation to migrate to another body of believers. This thesis project was designed to enable the leaders of WCF and other church leaders to answer these questions. In this pursuit, a comprehensive closure plan was created and implemented at WCF. For the purposes of this thesis, the intervention conducted was the closure plan and the effect of that plan upon the people of WCF, its key leaders, and its pastor. In surveys, focus groups, and interviews, the members of WCF showed a significant increase in positive emotional expressions and a corresponding decline in negative emotional expressions. The participants describe how their participation in the closure plan led to these results. Specifically, respondents noted the unity of the church as a key to their acceptance of the church closure process. In accepting the death of their church, nearly all congregants went on to pursue membership in other local churches. The analysis of these results leads to encouraging conclusions about the painful process of church closure.