Sunday looks very different from Monday at White Rock United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. During the week, a florist fills out orders next to an artist working on a project. Down the hall, students practice tai chi.
Declining attendance at America’s churches — a persistent trend in recent decades — has forced some to take a novel approach to keeping their doors open: renting out otherwise empty space during the usually quiet mid-week, CBS News’ Omar Villafranca reports.
Larry Duggins heads up the Missional Wisdom Foundation, a group that helps congregations become a place for commerce. “Churches close when they can’t get beyond that, unless they have some extraordinary other way to get people to come attend,” he said.
Senior pastor Mitchell Boone admits White Rock Methodist needed a miracle to stay open.
“We were spending way too much money to keep the doors open and the lights on and the staff paid and Sunday morning going, and so it was clearly a move out of desperation,” Boone said. “We were close to death.”
Their prayers were answered when they opened their basement up for business. In addition to creating a mixed workspace for startups to rent, the church reached out to groups in need. An African refugee group that sews bags and other products now rents a room from them.
Leila James, who has been a member of the church for 44 years, said other church members weren’t fully sold on the idea of renting out space. But James, the daughter of a preacher, ultimately embraced it.
“I attended the yoga class and I remember one day we got the giggles because we were just enjoying it so much and we thought, ‘Well, this is the way church should be. We should be able to have other aspects of our lives here,'” she said.