Attention all Church People: Envision standing in your church sanctuary on the first Sunday morning of the year 2030 Or maybe you are in the fellowship hall or family life center or gymnasium or classroom or the parking lot on the first Sunday ten years from now. What do you see?
It’s quite possible that your church will have closed for many reasons. Maybe the church building has been re-purposed as affordable housing or maybe it’s become a Chinese Restaurant.
It’s possible that you won’t be alive in 2030 (and maybe I won’t be alive either.)
It’s also quite possible that our congregations will be thriving. What the thriving looks like might surprise us a decade from now.
Ten years ago, most of our congregations didn’t have online giving much less phone apps for instantaneous donations. Ten years ago some people now leading congregations were not allowed to lead. Ten years ago most wedding ceremonies were celebrated in church buildings. Ten years ago – according to this study – 25% more Americans were church members.
And those numbers will continue to plummet. Just last month Pew announced in their “19 Striking Findings from 2019” and the #2 Finding added to the anxiety of millions of church people:
The decline of Christianity is continuing at a rapid pace in the U.S. Around two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) describe themselves as Christian, according to Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019. That’s down 12 percentage points since 2009. At the same time, the share of “nones” – religiously unaffiliated adults who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has reached 26%, up from 17% a decade ago.
The decline might in fact be “church membership” rather than “Christianity” but several people forwarded that article to me for my reaction. Frankly my reaction is that this is an excellent opportunity to be a more faithful Church. God does God’s best work in anxious times – especially if we get out of the way.
On the cusp of the first Sunday in 2020, we would be wise to zero in on what God might be doing around us. In these days, following the way of Jesus seems urgent.