Crouching over the back of my chair, I glance upward towards the ceiling, tapping the pencil eraser against my forehead, wondering, “What am I doing her? Why do I care?”
I was raised in this church, I have known generations of people in this church, and I have a familiarity with all the history of this church. But the church of yesteryear is not the church of today. What this church used to be is not what this church is today.
Faith Community Christian Church used to offer two Sunday morning worship services, a Sunday night youth group and a Sunday night bible study. The choir loft was full of singers, the hospitality of the congregation was pulsating and vibrant, and the laughter of children echoed through the hallways.
But now, the church is down to one Sunday morning worship service, no Sunday night participation, and those thunderous sounds of the children in the church hallways have been replaced by our elders shuffling their feet along the crest of the carpet surface. I and my family are one of the few members of this church whose age is under 50.
We have no youth to speak of except for my kids and when they bring an occasional friend. We are down to two Sunday school classes; one class is a close knit group that has been meeting together as a group for over forty years. Their numbers have dwindled over the years because many of their regular Sunday school participants have died off or have become physically unable to attend or have moved on to nursing home facilities. The other Sunday school class is small in number and was started as a response to attract younger adults. The class averages less than a half dozen participants a week.
Though the age of the clientele has changed, their personalities and their interest have not. They still want to see ministries flourish within the church, they still want to help fund and keep ministries going, and they still have a desire to reach out to the community. But the older ones can’t physically do the work load anymore, they can’t walk, stand, or stay awake very long, and just to make a Sunday morning worship service requires extreme effort on their part just to get ready for church.
“We used to do this, we used to that, I remember when…” Those old stories are great to hear but they have little relevancy to where the church is today. Our little church is not growing, in fact, it is actually losing ground. For the sixth year in a row we have finished the fiscal year in the ”red.” Many church members seem content to holding on to our own folk as long as we can maintain some type of budgeted numbers just to keep the church doors open on Sunday.
Everyone seems to be genuinely interested in reaching others for Christ. But reaching the unchurched is more difficult today than ever. More people work on Sundays, many little league sporting events play on Sundays, and families and individuals have fallen out of the habit of going to a weekly church service.
I came back to this church in part because I was baptized here, I was raised in this church, and I experienced the hope, the love, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through the fellowship of its members. But I am also perplexed on how to keep our doors open while competing with sixty six other churches in this town where most of them also share in the same troubles and concerns that we are experiencing.
“We need to use the tools we have on hand today.” I shout out. “God has given us all types of gifts. How we used those gifts before may differ in how we use those gifts today.”
Those beloved elders look at me and ask, “How so?”
“Look around you, see what positive qualities each of you can offer right now. Then look to offer those talents to Godly service. Who can’t pick up a phone, who can’t write a letter or a note, who can’t bake some cookies?”
Jesus saw the potential in all of us. Jesus set His sites on the future kingdom. Being a Christian is an action verb. Go and do. Attempting to minister is better then not doing any ministry at all.
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