Some of the West Midlands' finest churches are crumbling into disrepair with falling lottery funds and dwindling congregations unable to raise enough cash to save them.
English Heritage said places of worship across the region applied for nearly #6 million in grant aid last year but the organisation and the Heritage Lottery Fund were only able to pay for half the repairs needed.
Yesterday, the heritage watchdog revealed the full extent of the threat facing historic places of worship and launched its Inspired! campaign to try and solve the problem.
Nationally, the organisation estimated the cost of repairing all of England's listed places of worship was #925 million over the next five years.
Tim Johnston, planning and development director at English Heritage West Midlands, said: "Our Inspired! campaign is about understanding the problem and taking action before we reach crisis point.
"Last year English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund gave #2.7 million for urgent repairs to historic places of worship in the West Midlands.
"However, this met only half the need and much more must be done if our places of worship are to continue to be part of community life in our region."
Mr Johnston, speaking at the regional launch of the camapgin at St Alkmund's church in Shrewsbury, added: "Instead of asking Government to meet the staggering #118 million per year funding shortfall, we are asking for a more realistic #26.52 million (#8.84 million a year for three years) to shrink the problem."
English Heritage has come up with a five-point plan to tackle the problem. It includes:
* re-writing out-dated list descriptions for all 4,200 grade I places of worship in England to help congregations understand their buildings and make it simpler to care for and manage them
* helping congregations to help themselves by appointing Historic Places of Worship support officers to provide guidance and expertise
* creating a maintenance grants scheme to shrink repair bills in the longer term
* continuing the English Heritage/Heritage Lottery Fund Repair Grants Scheme for Places of Worship and augmenting it with a new small grants scheme
* making sure safety nets are in place for redundant places of worship, including campaigning for adequate Government money for the Churches Conservation Trust.