I read this book one time and it was about 7 different churches and the people that attended them. However my recent experiences says I can pare it down to three churches. We returned home from vacation a few days ago and immediately attended a funeral. A funeral of a friend from our prior church. SPOILER ALERT-If you’re anti-church, I would suggest you just go ahead and Google any other subject that warms your heart. In our married years, we uprooted family and moved here or there, and as a result moved into different church homes. It’s not easy to find a new church home, but it’s not impossible to make new friends in a new church. Many people cringe at church change and would never leave their “home church” once they are rooted in one, friendship is more important to some rather than theology. Many people just don’t understand theology. So, let’s begin.
Church number 1: This is the church we are currently attending. It’s a big church. It’s hard on us, because have always been small church people. We like closeness, involvement, action and the familiarity of small churches. A big church usually instills unfamiliarity, separation and invisibleness. Church #1 has big music presentations (not loud, head thumping, headache producing, ear piercing, blow you out the back wall stuff) and there is mature, substantive sermon messages, 40 weekly small groups (with 400 people attending-that’s about half of the church), events and retreats for youth and families. It’s an active church without the usual big church feel.
Church #2: This is our summer time church. I’ll be critically honest here. I’ve spent a lot of summers ignoring church. But, recently there has been this personal need to stay connected in God’s word, other than merely enjoying His beauty presented each day on the lake. True in the early church search days I just wanted to fill this personal commitment to go and get it over with (the fish were calling my name!!)–so I searched for an early service church so we could get back to the lake. It turned out the only church we liked, was small, had only one service and it began at 10:45!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OK, OK, I’m here ALL summer I can ignore my desires and NOT focus on God’s lake on Sunday’s. Well, I said this is a small church, in the summer time it’s pews swell. There are about 50 summertime people in attendance and most of them are 10 years my senior and I’m beginning my 8th decade!!! Its winter attendance must only be in the teens. I don’t know how this church survives. In the last couple of years this church has lost about 15 to 20 members do to various illnesses. It’s and aging church whose long term existence in my mind, is uncertain.
Church #3: This was our previous church, the one we just visited for the funeral. Not long ago its membership was about 300. As of a couple of years ago, its membership was down to around 120. One of the flags that caught our attention was how the young families were leaving. The families were leaving to attend Big Churches that had programs for youth, family retreats, Christian games, community courses and sporting events. I had hoped for and opted for a plan to generate new youth programs, when we were members, but was met with the proverbial “we’re too small to support programs beside what we did 30 years ago was good enough for us”. My thought is/was, if it the technique was “good enough”, then where are your kids today? As I looked around I could see that their children have grown up and either moved on to more active churches OR they have stayed and don’t participate at all. Church #3 is about to slide into a Church #2.
It’s sad, the American citizen has such freedom to be able to attend any church without restriction and yet they turn away. We are but one generation away from totally losing Christianity. It’s that generation, who when bringing a young for dedication or watching a dedication gave a promise to “help” share the gospel with each child in attendance. It’s you who are missing. John 3:16.