In the last while I’ve noticed numbers of authors commenting on a trend being observed in the Church worldwide – many observers are noting that even the most committed Christians are typically in church less times per month than in a previous generation. The articles differ on precisely why this is the case (among them, the pace of life, the range of alternative weekend activities, etc), but they agree that the trend is real.
While we certainly want to encourage our people to gather for worship as regularly as possible – the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to “not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing” (Heb 10:25) – we also need to recognise that our context for ministry has changed. Church community life is not what it was a generation ago.
There is a significant consequence of this trend. I’m less concerned with attendance statistics and more with the effect that it has on community relationships. If people who used to worship together every week are now only in church every second week – that makes it likely that two people might now only see each other say, once a month (Kym and I certainly experience this as a result of only preaching at Umhlali every second week – there are some people we keep missing!)
How to respond (without just reminiscing about how things used to be ...)? How do we build community given that we are not all together in worship as often as we used to be?
One practical response we’re experimenting with is through our website. We’ve added new features to the site which we hope will help to strengthen community even when we’re not physically together at the same time. Won’t you go to www.umc.org.za and follow the simple process to register as a user. For registered users, you will be able to interact with others (comment on sermons, blogs, courses, books, ask questions in a forum), see a gallery of names and faces of people who attend your regular service, as well as update your own details and track your giving online. It’s a bit like Facebook for our church. Without the cute pictures of kittens :)
And because we value community, I hope you’ll give it a try.
Register or to see comments or add your own