July 20, 2023

This past Easter, one of my good friends, Rev. Michael Mills, stepped into the pulpit of Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX to deliver a sermon of hope and resurrection. However, this particular Sunday was infused with more meaning than normal. This was the last sermon Agape Baptist Church would ever hear; Easter Sunday was their final Sunday as a church.

Sociologists tell us that churches are closing their doors at an incredibly rapid rate. Many churches have shrunk so that now the average size of a congregation in the United States is 65 members. Pair that with the fact that only 16% of Americans feel that religion is an important part of their life, and we will be seeing more and more churches close in the next couple of decades.

To many of us, these sorts of statistics feel like examples of failures. We are not a people who handle endings well. We tend to see endings as signs of death.

However, we are the people who believe that salvation is found even in our brokenness, that abundance is more powerful than scarcity, and that life springs from death.

When I was in seminary, one of my professors held the position of the Des Peres Chair of Congregational Health. One day I asked her about the name of her position. She explained that Des Peres Baptist Church was a small congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. The church had once had over 500 members but shrunk to about 25. The church was facing the decision to close its doors, but it still had about $1 million in the bank. So, the remaining members of Des Peres Baptist Church decided to use that money to help fund a position at my seminary dedicated to congregational health. Out of death came new life for others.

Michael at Agape Baptist Church lovingly, wisely, pastorally led his church through their final days as a church. When they closed their doors, they still had a beautiful building in downtown Fort Worth. A growing, vibrant, Hispanic church was looking for a place to worship. The members of Agape freely handed the deed to their property to these brothers and sisters so that they may have a home. Soon, the walls of Agape Baptist Church will be filled with new life.

Endings are not always bad things, friends. Sometimes they are opportunities for the newness of life to spring forth in surprising ways. We at Ardmore Baptist Church are in a much healthier position than most churches in our country. But that does not mean that we do not face our own cycle of endings and new beginnings. Programs end and make room for new ministries. Traditions keep us grounded for decades and then run their course. Those changes are inevitable. But how we respond to them is our choice. Let us endeavor to always be people who see hope in any and all seasons.

Contact / Location

Contact info

123, New Lenox, Chicago IL 60606

Gathering Times


8:00am, 9:15am, 11:00am