Dear Church Family,
Over the past while we have all noticed that church attendance is down. You have noticed this when someone who have been even semi-regular have not been seen for months now. You have also noticed this if you are a treasurer or on any church board or council, or have attended a congregational meeting where finances and drop in giving have been discussed.
Thank you Covid! Or is it really Covid?
As you already know, long before Covid, it was already difficult to get people to attend weekend church services. Travel, sports, weekend away, the well reported slow death of cultural Christianity and a growing indifference and increased mobility meant that for most churches, or worshiping communities, attendance was flat or already declining.
Post-Covid, as churches reopened, and we’ve certainly noticed this, it seems like that attendance that was on a slow decline has now fallen off a cliff.
It would be easy to diagnose the current low reopening attendance numbers as a “medical precaution” or merely a “medical issue”…but what if the problem runs much deeper than that?
Research (pre-Covid) have already shown that church attendance is well in decline and has been over that past 20 years or so. The LCA’s reports this much as well. The current “church attendance crisis” is not medical, it is cultural. “Medical” would be nice, it would be easy, it would be a “comfortable scapegoat”…but there is something deeper going on, and it has for decades now.
After all, crisis is not an “inventor” it is an “accelerator”. The arrival of Covid did not “invent a new” issue it merely “accelerated the already known” issue.
As much as we may want to ignore it, argue against it, pretending this is not the case…the reality is that the trend has been there, the end point might just have moved forward a couple of decades. And it is important for us to handle this knowing that “denial” is not a strategy. Simply denying what we hate will not get our church to a place we will love.
So, as a church community, we can do one of two things…we can:
1) “Romanticise” or “Wish-dream” that “once everything is over (and we have no idea when this will be) everything will be back to ‘normal’”, or,
2) Ask ourselves honestly “what is going on?” and “what can we do now?”.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to sit, and to be really blunt, roll the dice, and hope things “return”. Return to what exactly? A slow decline as we worry more about our comfort and the gaps in our roster?
Are you tired of “just waiting”? Are you tired of just “hoping things would improve a little” whilst not being so optismistic?
Then let us go experience the joy and hope that God has waiting for us as we live out our purpose as the Ipswich Lutheran Church. Let us be the proactive, Spirit-driven, hope-giving, gospel-motivated and joy-experiencing community we have been made and called to be and go meet people wherever they are at instead of waiting.
Let us be the church for all its worth, taking hope to everyone everywhere and receiving the joy that comes through that.
You are all loved and appreciated.
In His Service,
Pastor Roelof

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