This blog series is based on a sermon I did at Westminster titled “The State of the Church Address.” You can listen to it HERE.
How many of you have heard or said the following about life and church today?
- What happened to our church?
- I can remember when the church was full. When Christmas Eve was packed.
- I remember when the parking lot was full.
- I remember when people dressed up for church and were quiet during the prelude
- Why don’t my kids or grandkids come to my church? Why don’t my kids or grandkids go to church at all?
- Why is technology changing so fast?
- Why are so many people going to such large churches instead of small churches where they can know everyone?
- People asked what church you went to instead of if you go to church. You were expected to go to church.
- People used to care about their denomination. You were Presbyterian because you weren’t Methodist.
- I think we are going to close. Just trying to keep the doors open.
- Don’t spend any money. We might need it someday.
Churches that used to thrive are now surviving. Certainly the world around the church is a challenge. It is not an easy time to be a church. Many are shrinking. Some are closing. The reasons for this are complex and multifaceted.
The rate of change today is astonishing. The technology we have in our pockets would blow away most scientists of 50 years ago. Our thinking is changing. What we believe is not based anymore on the testimony of authority figures but more on our own experiences. Tolerance used to mean that we could agree to disagree. Today it means that everybody’s beliefs and ideas are equally true. We have multiple generations in the church and these generations are very different from one another. Churches, like people, also go through natural life cycles. Like a Bell Curve, churches grow, plateau, and decline. Many churches are in the decline portion of their life cycle.
One of the biggest challenges for the church today is a major change in the expectations over church attendance. It used to be that you were expected to be in church. The stigma of not going to church is no longer around. It also used to be that regular church attendance meant being in the church building 2-3 times a week. Now a regular church member comes 1-2 times a month. People get sick. People have to work. People go visit family. People have trouble leaving the house. It is understandable, but it makes the church feel more empty.
These external challenges have led to some difficult challenges inside of the church. I think that, in our quest to be a healthy and thriving church, we have face 3 big obstacles.
- How much to change and how much to change the same.
- Financial Struggles
- Fear and a Lack of confidence.
I will explore these issues in my next few blogs.