All over America there is a lament that people aren’t going to church like they used to. No doubt attendance is down on Sundays compared with recent decades. But I want to share with you that this is not entirely bad news. Denominational leaders are seeing this as an opportunity in work clothes – and they are encouraging churches to review their purpose, open their eyes to new opportunities to serve, and revitalize their congregations with new ways to be the church.
The results are innovative and exciting. There are now churches thriving as they meet in cafes, gyms, public parks, etc. There are churches that unite people who are entrepreneurs, for example, and support them as they unite business goals with sustainability and service to people in need. I have a colleague who for a long time had a weekly dinner at her house for her daughter’s friends. Afterwards she would read a scripture, lead a discussion, and offer communion. She called it “Dinner Church.” The girls loved it and in this non-traditional way, enabled her to share the love of Jesus.
At Union Chapel, such creative ideas might one day find a place in our fellowship — or perhaps not. We already enjoy vitality in many ways: steady attendance, generous giving, and relevant outreach. But it is still good for us to look in the mirror from time to time to review where we are and where we would like to be as a community centered on the gospel message. To that end, on June 30 our trustees and deacons will meet as a part of a process of carefully, prayerfully considering new ways of being the church on Fishers Island.
Churches may sometimes feel that they are on their own in seeking new direction. But before Jesus ascended to heaven, he promised the disciples they would be “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). And they were! On Pentecost, the wind and fire of the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, giving birth to the church.
There may be some bad news in terms of church trends, but nothing — absolutely nothing — can diminish the good news of Jesus’ saving love for all humanity! As we proceed in faith, we can trust that Holy Spirit will empower us to share that good news in ways that are relevant and life giving. And perhaps hear it ourselves anew.
A safe and happy summer to all, and may the Spirit rekindle in all of us joy in living out our call!
CandyChapel Happenings Summer 2019