Just starting the usual and expected series of church services that happen during the run-up to Easter Sunday – this involves a programme of services hosted by the different denominations during the week, meditations each morning and services each evening. What strikes me already is that the people attending are all (at least virtually all, with the exception of the ministers) well past retirement age. I should not be surprised of course but it has already made me realise that it will not be many years before these events simply stop happening because there will be no-one left to attend.
I must confess to thinking that surely this is all an exercise in futility? I really don’t mean to be negative but isn’t this realistic? I can certainly understand why ministers would want to perpetuate these services, simply because of their responsibility to pastor those who have been doing this since they were children. But there is nothing missional in these services. They are led by church folk, for church folk, and they seem not to understand, nor have any real clue, as to why the generations following them do not attend.
From my perspective such events are, dare I say it, anti-missional in that the whole manner of the presentation and delivery would be deeply disturbing and off-putting to the vast majority of todays general population (and to some extent to me!). With Easter being the highlight of the Christian year and its deep significance for the human condition we really need to start doing something different. Quite what that might look like I admit I do not yet know…. but the missional imagination really does need to work prayerfully and practically on this matter.
One thing that I am considering is to see whether we can identify a few churches that are thriving in the sense that they do have people representing all generations (even if only in part). Once identified it would be worthwhile taking a few elders along to see the shape of the churches life and compare that with our own. Whilst I certainly have plenty of ideas about what could do with changing it is always helpful if one can show people scenarios that are working. So, I am going to see if I can find some thriving churches that are small ie certainly less than 100 participants, and pay them a visit.