Economics of City Ministry

A quick #sustainministry follow-on. Is it little wonder that there’s so much wishful and whistful thinking about having monasteries “somewhere”? It’s easy to picture some small, leafy town. Easier certainly that imagining the same in a leafy stretch of Greenwich Village.

Considering the high cost of living and property — purchased or rental — and the cultural and community alternatives found in the large coastal cities, and the high rates of practical secularism, what kind of future is there for churches?

I once read (not long ago) that once a church or synagogue is demolished in New York it is almost impossible to replace it elsewhere. That is, the peak number of houses of worship has past. I would believe the same is true for the District of Columbia. Perhaps that’s fine. But does it imply that we have as many churches as we will ever have in these same coastal cities. And that’s remembering that much of the denominational growth was in the post-WWII housing boom outside those cities. Even with alternative modes of ministry, it’s not hard to imagine that cities will be a special challenge.

Just getting that off my chest.

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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