On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your church involvement? What would be your score 5 years ago? How different are your answers to these two questions? Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet (Rainer, 2018) discusses the status of today’s declining churches and provides a working model for those who choose to fight for a comeback. The stories from pastors, church leadership, and membership are vulnerable and explain the “why” behind church death based on choices and their unintended consequences.
I agree with the mentioned reasons for a church’s decline and how to best address each; however, the book leaves out an important factor influencing engagement. As the saying goes: times, they are a changing! Part of a church’s decline in attendance may have little to do with the church, but the priority church has in the over-scheduled, over-stressed average American family’s life. Even if a church hits on all cylinders in outward deluge, welcoming, and back door closure, it’s hard to overcome a family’s pressure on time management with the options that technology provides.
Years ago, if you wanted to attend a service not inside brick and mortar, you only had a few TV evangelism options such Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and Jimmy Bakker. Technology now allows us to stream a live service of our favorite church or pastor from our iPhone or watch a video on our computer at our convenience. You could call it: church service on demand in the comfort of our own home.
I too have succumbed to watching Jeremy Foster preach on a Sunday morning in my bathrobe while eating bacon and eggs. Afterwards, I dress and get to work, saving myself a couple hours of commuting. Of course, I miss the worship music vibrating through my body and meeting up with friends. I can schedule coffee and conversation later when it’s more convenient. What about spreading the Gospel? Our church outreach includes inviting people to Saturday dinner on occasion and followed by a church service at Hope City. I’m not justifying my choices but explaining how I get comfortable with my decision.
I believe churches that will thrive will be those that break the mold on traditional church. Church members want intimacy with flexibility, which I believe will be difficult for most churches to achieve based on the traditional upbringing in how church is done. Do you wonder what church will look like 10 years from now.
Rainer, T. (2018). Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet. B&H Publishing: Nashville, TN
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org