Recently Trinity College in Connecticut released a new study called “American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population” Now it should come as no surprise to people involved in church work that less than 18% of the people in the US attend church on Sunday morning. Many things contribute to this and this is a phenomenon that has been taking place since the 1970’s so we should have been ready for it. I think, for the most part, that religion has become something that is not essential in people’s lives. How do we reverse this trend? Can we reverse this trend?
I have been reading a blog called “Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor” authored by Chuck Warnock. Chuck is a Baptist Pastor in Virginia and writes a blog for churches of no more than 300. Lot’s of great stuff and I think all of us that pastor these types of churches should be reading his blog and learning from each other. Well today he had a posting called “The Indispensable Church” In this post he asks the question, “How can church become indispensable to a community?” He claims we need to stop asking the question how can we get more people to come to church? and focus on the previous question.
I am sure that those of us who are involved in church work would love to pastor church of say 1,400 families, well not me anyway I think those churches are too big and should be broken up. I am looking for the church that lives the mission of Jesus Christ. The other question Pastor Chuck asks is, “If our church was to close tomorrow would anyone notice?”
I would like to think people would, and I am sure he means people other than the ones who attend the church. What are you doing as church to make yourself indispensable to the community?
Here at St. Michael’s we have begun a feeding program that we call the Community Meal. One night a month we provide a meal to anyone who wish to come for free. I usually do the cooking and people like Laura, John, Linda & Vic come and help serve the meal. It is great and we get about 40 people or so each month. Different menu each month and last month one of the local restaurants provided the meal. Does this make us indispensable, not yet but I hope we are working on it.
So that’s the question. Are we just providing liturgical services? This is important don’t get me wrong, but what are we doing to further the mission of the church as Jesus taught us. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison. What are we doing?