What’s Right with Church?

St Andrew's church - box pews. Thurning, Norfolk
St Andrew’s church – box pews. Thurning, Norfolk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All across this country fewer and fewer people attend worship on Sunday morning. This is not merely a mainline problem with people leaving to attend new mega-churches, for surveys increasingly show that the fastest growing religious preference is “spiritual, but not religious” or “none of the above.”

Churches build during the 1950’s or earlier can tell of times when the pews were so full that they shifted children to separate classrooms during worship so adults would have places to sit. Many of these congregations also have photographs showing all their pews filled. Yet today, many of those churches now attract only a tenth of their former attendance. Churches had built grand structures to fill a need only to have the need shrink while the population grew. It is like the bridge builder who spanned a mighty river, only to have the river move.

It seems that our mode of being the Church of Jesus Christ in the world suddenly and unexpectedly stopped working. Many congregations strive to hang on to Sunday morning worship, Sunday school, and committee meetings by chasing people who now attend infrequently. while other people explore not merely new music styles in worship but new modes for ministry, including coffee shop discussion groups and blog sites.

instead of scraping what the Church has done for hundreds, if not thousands of years and inventing a new mode of doing “church”, what about the old mode still works? How can we enhance those aspects of being a worshiping community?

  •  In our increasingly digitally connected world, Church still provides a place to meet WITH other people who know you beyond your username. A place where someone you know will greet you with a handshake and listen genuinely to your joys and concerns.
  • Church still provides opportunities to use skills beyond one’s profession. Want to practice your public speaking skills or play a musical instrument? A congregation may welcome your services helping to lead worship.
  • Church still encourages and equip members and visitors to connect with the One who is greater than all creation.
  • If spirituality can be compared to the colors and decorations on the walls of a house, Church provides the framing and walls, theological structure and guidance that have helped people connect with God for thousands years.

I was glad when they said to me,
 “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
— Psalm 122:1

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