Falling number of church attendees
It is clear to see that the number of regular attendees at Service is periodically
dropping. There are many theories about why this is happening, but the main
consensus is that the current congregations are ageing and are not being
replaced. Today, the Church seems to have a much lower priority in many
peoples’ lives! So what has changed?
On a practical level, the Church was traditionally a place for the community
to come together, socialise and exchange news from near and far-off places.
This has now been replaced with on-line communities and social networks. I
recently tried to email God, but his broadband connection was down — so I
had to revert to prayer!!
Joking aside, this ever growing reservoir of information increases our ability to
question. This is a good thing and is critical to our development. Personally, I
question the whole existence of God from time to time. There are days when I
think that life after death is just a fairy tale made up to make us less fearful of
death. Equally, there are days when I look at the evolution of the human race
and think that there has to be something beyond us that has choreographed this
amazing world and our ability to utilise it. Of course, there are days when I just
sit on the fence.
However, long before the Internet, church attendance was falling. To some
degree, this coincides with the demise of community. Over the past 30 years,
community has become less of a priority and therefore, today, many people do
not know their own neighbours.
So in an age where our communities are on-line and society no longer promotes
or emphasises religion, why do I still go to church? Firstly, it is the only chance
I get for some peace and quiet. It also gives me an opportunity to belong to
a living community, but mainly because it renews my awareness of Jesus’
Jesus as a human on earth left us with a simple message: to love your
neighbour as yourself. With this in mind, we must always strive to do what
is good but, being human, we will often fail. Going to church renews that
message in us. I have often come away from church with a new insight and as a
result, phoned an old friend or mended a bridge. This is God’s word in practice.
Going to church renews and keeps God’s message at the top of our minds --
and deep in our hearts!
Dr Premanand M E
Into the wide wide open.
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