Today I attended the closing of a church I belonged to for about 12 years. It was where I was confirmed and married. I served as acolyte. My mother was on the Altar Guild committee. My sister received her first communion there. It was my spiritual home.
The pastor who served there while I was a member was progressive in my mind. He was the first preacher I heard admit that he was not perfect; he was flawed just like everyone else. One phrase I remember him saying practically weekly in prayers “We are not accidents in time and space.” That was where my belief, my true feeling that God created each and every one of use for a purpose. We had a mission. Sometimes the mission is crystal clear and other times it is not.
I posted some pictures I took of the church and that it was closing. I have received many comments from friends and friends of friends saying how sad it was. Yes, it is sad. One person asked why it was closing. Low attendance is the reason. People are not coming to church like they used to.
I am about to climb on my soapbox. People do not hold Sunday special or sacred anymore. Stores are open. Sports teams have practices and games. People, families no longer make attending a church a priority. It is more of a “if we can squeeze it in.” There are other reasons too. Younger people are not attending traditional church anymore because they can listen to Christian music on the internet and download songs digitally. They don’t need to attend Bible Study or Sunday School because they can attend book clubs or study groups in coffee houses or in an individual’s home. Mission projects can be done with any number of individual charities. Of course there is also the notion that people feel the church is hypocritical. It is.
The hypocrisy of organized religion is blatant as well as the conservatives who tout scripture at the drop of the hat. In the past week the public was made aware of allegations that the oldest son of a reality show family had sexually abused young girls a number of years ago. Most of the victims – his own sisters. As Christians we are instructed to love one another as ourselves. We are treat people the way we want to be treated. That does not mean we can exclude a segment of the population because we don’t like what they do behind closed bedroom doors. Does this oldest son lose his salvation because of his alleged crimes? No. Once we become followers of Christ we are always followers of Christ. Anyone is welcome to believe. Yes we are to repent of sin and change our ways, but it is not up to other people to decide if we have done that. That, judgment, is up to God. That is a relief to me. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want that responsibility.
Anyway, the church as a whole needs to make changes. We need to be willing to accept “contemporary Christian” music. Open to having worship services outside, stepping outside the box in how we share God’s Word. To go along with that, we the people, need to show up to church. The pews need to be filled. It may be difficult for some people to understand but the church is a business. A church as expenses: mortgage, salary, utility expenses, landscaping. The church depends on the consistent donations of its members in order to pay the bills and help those in need.
If it has been a while since you’ve been to church. Go back. Go church shopping. Just because you were raised in a Lutheran, Baptist, or Catholic Church does not mean you have to stay there. Really. You have a choice. I was raised and confirmed in the Lutheran and now I am a member of the United Methodist Church. Think about what is most important to you in terms of a church home. How close is the church to your home? Do they have a children’s program? How about adult classes? What mission projects are they involved with? Is music important to you? Do they have a choir or praise band? Both?
It is very sad that churches around our country are closing, but it can be stopped. People need to start attending again. We need to be part of the process. Be part of the change.
Today I witnessed the death of a church. However, I have faith that a new Church will emerge and be stronger than ever.