It was like a scene from a movie.

As a director of new church development, I went to a church that had closed several months before. A couple of colleagues and I were there to assess the building and its potential for launching a new congregation. None of us were prepared for what we saw.

Just Ended

When we walked into the nicely decorated sanctuary, it looked as though the worship service had just ended. The pulpit was well positioned, liturgical banners were on the walls, and a few bulletins were casually strewn in the pews. Computers, an updated sound system, and other tech equipment were in the back of the room.

On our trip downstairs, we found several brightly colored classrooms with Scriptures and encouraging quotes about faith on the walls. The early grade school room was especially well done and included excellent curriculum neatly stowed on shelves.   

In the fellowship hall, themed centerpieces stood on the tables from their final gathering. A thin white towel was draped over some dishes in the rack next to the sink. It had been dry for months.

Left Behind

To be honest, the whole experience felt eerie. The building had been left as if people were coming back the next day, but they never did.

Tragically, with a well-located, well-equipped, 20-year-old building, that church died. But it could have avoided death. Here’s how.  

Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as the lead pastor of one of the largest United Methodist Churches in the Midwest. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role with Spiritual Leadership, Inc (SLI).

Roger now comes alongside pastors, non-profit leaders and their leadership teams as an executive coach, specializing in leadership that inspires change. As a side gig, he loves teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas.

Other passions of his include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, Krispy Kremes, and board games with family and friends. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith, Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For, and Come Back Participant Guide, all through Abingdon Press.

Now for the best part. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they live Bloomington, Illinois. God has blessed them with two adult children, a son-in-law, several tropical fish, and one adorable granddog.