More than a year after Pastor Mac Brunson resigned from First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, the megachurch’s current senior pastor says the congregation is in “cardiac arrest” and in need of a drastic downsizing.
“Our church is facing some truly significant challenges,” Senior Pastor Heath Lambert says in a video posted to the church’s website. “But I also think we have a really incredible opportunity to reach out to the city in Jesus’ name in a new and bold way we have never been able to do before.”
Lambert unveiled to his congregation on Sunday a $30 million plan to help the historic church stop “the bleeding from its pores” caused by 11 years of a sharp decline in attendance and the tens of millions it would cost to maintain the church’s campus that spans 10 city blocks.
The Jacksonville Daily Record reports that the plan is called “A New Generation of Miracles.” According to the newspaper, the congregation voted on Sunday to approve the plan.
“Here’s what I’m telling you — First Baptist Church is in cardiac arrest,” Lambert was quoted as saying as he told congregants about the $30 million loan the church will need to take out to renovate the parts of the campus they are keeping.
“And if we don’t jolt back to life with a loan, we’re not going to make it. We can die and be irrelevant and have 500 people sitting in this room thrilled to be a part of the memory of the miracle of Downtown Jacksonville.”
Lambert laid out five challenges the congregation is facing: attendance, location, campus size, maintenance costs, and financial struggles.
“First Baptist has been experiencing a general decline in attendance for the last 20 years and a sharp decline in attendance over the last 10,” Lambert said.
Lambert reportedly displayed for the congregation a line graph showing that attendance has fallen from an average of 10,000 to 3,200 last year.
Although the church experienced a 3% growth in the last year, Lambert said the slight growth is not enough to “erase” the problems the church is facing.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith