I’ve read far too many articles over the years about the “decline of the church in America!” Yup, people are leaving their churches. There’s a great reshuffling going on within churches on top of that. It’s probably due to a variety of factors — a trend that has been going on for decades that accelerated, the partisan nature of so many people, the shifting of identity away from faith to ideology, churches making public statements on a variety of social issues that upset people, an outdated model of church that is finally collapsing, outdated expectations of church that can no longer be fulfilled, abuses and exploitations that are finally being exposed and no longer acceptable for the protection of the institution, lack of trust in institutions in general, an existential rethinking of so many people, economic challenges, the pandemic, and more.
But is decline in membership really the worst thing in the world for the church? Or is it just a type of cleansing that is going on where the church will be leaner and the people who are a part of it more interested in living out the faith they claim? Or something else entirely? We’ll have to wait to see how it plays out.
Here’s what I know: I thought I would be spending more time with those that are unchurched — either those who left the church, had bad experiences with church, or who were never a part of church. The nones and dones are a growing segment of society, so why wouldn’t I, and churches who want to spread the Gospel spend more time with folks like this.
I spend plenty of time with churched people and those are times of blessing — especially with folks who are serving their neighbors, serving their communities, helping those that need help, checking on others in the congregation, making food for people, and more. I thoroughly enjoy my time with these folks and hope that we can be an inspiration for each other.
I do spend a good amount of time with people who are not churched actually — building relationship with people and community, getting to know people, serving those in need, sharing faith in appropriate ways that don’t make it seem like all I care about is “saving” people. As I’ve said many times before, I can’t save anyone — that’s God’s job. All I can do it proclaim and invite. I proclaim that life doesn’t have to be the way it is in the world, and invite people into a different way of living and being in community. And I love these times. It’s really about the expansion of the kingdom of God — at least how I see it.