Downton Abbey is a PBS TV program about an aristocratic British family and their servants, who live in a mansion in the lovely English countryside.
In part of the plot, World War I begins and millions of British soldiers are wounded. A desperate need arises for hospitals and the family at Downton decides to open up their home to the injured. Great good is done through the Downton “hospital.” Many of the sick and hurting are cared for and rehabilitated.
But the war ends.
After the war, many soldiers continue to need care, and military doctors request that the owners of Downton carry on in receiving the wounded. Those of Downton consider the appeal but ultimately reject it.
As pleased as they are to help during the conflict, Downton’s residents have grown tired. They’ve had to change some things at their building to accommodate the sick. It is inconvenient and uncomfortable; they are ready to return to a more stable and relaxed life.
A lot of churches are like Downton Abbey. They may pass through a phase where they feel motivated to turn their buildings into something like hospitals. They may even effectively receive and serve those who are wounded. But in time, they grow tired. Accommodating the hurting becomes uncomfortable.
The difference with Downton is this: church members do not openly communicate the fact that they are discontinuing treatment of the injured. Instead, members find more subtle ways to alert the wounded that they are no longer welcome.