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hope for churches in stress

A Fruitful Tree

After 180 years, Washington Boro (Pa.) Church of God is like an old apple tree. The church has matured over the decades. It is deeply rooted. It is still bearing fruit. Yet people are wondering whether the church has a viable future. To answer this question, the church is mulling over possibilities.

Nurture. Washington Boro is a church of mostly older adults. So one option is to specialize in ministry to seniors. This would require older adults to come into the church at a faster pace than the ones who move on to heaven! With good outreach, the church can continue to nurture good fruit among seniors.

Pruning. A second option is to become a church that serves all ages. This would require rigorous pruning, replacing the current practices and preferences of older adults with ones that attract and serve younger households. With such pruning, the church could bear fruit among all ages.

Grafting. A third option is to be blended into the life and mission of a nearby church. Grafting infuses the vitality of young branches into established rootstock to revitalize the whole tree. With another church as a willing partner, a combined church could bear fruit for a long time.

Applying a good practice for older churches, Washington Boro COG is being proactive to set direction. After identifying options, the congregation is praying, talking, and deciding together on a way forward. With this kind of intentionality, even an old apple tree can bear much fruit (Jn. 15:16).

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