Major shrinkage at FBC-Jacksonville

First Baptist Church is selling most of its property in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

A pillar of faith in downtown Jacksonville for 181 years, First Baptist Church plans to consolidate its sprawling 10-block campus into one block in an effort to eliminate skyrocketing maintenance costs, while also rebuilding its dwindling congregation by extending its ministry to growing areas of Duval County.

The congregation Sunday morning overwhelmingly approved the plan …

Watch the sermon, below.

Watching the sermon, I’m struck by the pastor’s frank recitation of the dismal facts — declining membership and rising campus maintenance costs (and, notice that this church pays no property taxes on its massive downtown campus). Ordinarily, pastors do everything but drop happy-face balloons from the ceiling when the news is bad.

The problems at FBC-Jax have been growing for years, of course; it’s Pastor Lambert’s misfortune to be the guy at the helm when the difficulties can no longer be ignored and pretended-away. Recall that the previous pastor, Mac Brunson, is the guy who sicced the Sheriff’s office on an anonymous Internet critic and ended-up paying an undisclosed settlement.

I doubt very much that these measures will secure the long-term viability of the church, because Christianity is untrue and in decline. Another pastor will face the same problems 20-years from now, but with a smaller congregation. Perhaps they’ll rent a storefront in a failing shopping center.

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