The decline of people attending churches and the trend of not being affiliated with a religious organization should be a great concern for those whose faith is foundational in their lives. I’ve come across several article which attempt to explain why the last three generations have rejected or minimize the need for belonging to a church community. (Can We Survive, Losing It).
This article from The American Conservative brought a sharper focus on the communities in which we work and live. Churches were once the center of social gatherings in American culture. Virtually nothing happened in a community, urban or rural which didn’t involve the church. Diversity, mobility, jobs and cultural blending has created a multitude of divergent groups which draw people away from the traditional faith communities of American culture.
I think the writer, a young college Christian, makes and interesting point about the community in which he feels most comfortable. He also expresses a deep concern for the erosion of his faith because he is drawn towards one community and not his church.
His concern is genuine yet it may also create opportunities for carrying out Jesus’s commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” This may open the door for a missional church, one without walls or physical location. A spiritual church, infused with the mission of Jesus Christ, may thrive in the secular communities where people spend their lives and energies.
The conventional church in a physical address may be a diminishing community for those who connect with God in a traditional setting. Rather than be the central gathering place for the community, churches may simple be another group of people among many where devotees meet to share their own unique values. While there is concern that the community church may shrink to these small gatherings, the real issue is what will take its place. Most likely many other small communities each with a unique perspective on spiritual nourishment and purpose. The question we should be asking then is; Can an established faith community accept its diminishing role in society and still influence the growth of faith in the numerous secular communities?
There are no answers in this article however it may demonstrate the opportunity for transforming lives in a secular society. Rather than be focused on growing the Church, we can grow an awareness of how God, through the Son can impact communities in a positive way.
Perhaps contemporary service with Praise and Worship bands and New Age Worship is not the solution to declining numbers. Organic churches and ministries such as “Fresh Expressions” or “Organic Church .org”, are the alternative which do away with the larger complex churches based on business models. Instead worship can return to a simpler idea of small group gatherings. In these “communities” people who are connected through their work, recreation, age group or other commonalities can share their questions and experiences with religious issues.
Please click on the link below and read the article. Then share your thought about the potential for sharing God’s grace through other communities.