You would think crisis would bring people back to church. I remember thinking this way shortly after 9/11, especially after hearing so many religious leaders talking about that event ushering in a wave of revival and repentance. Alas, this was not the case. I remember seeing fewer empty spaces in the pews but nothing enough to mark a significant change in attendance. Then, after a few months and things got “back to normal” folks who did return to the church drifted back out. This despite my appeals to the contrary.
Pew Forum has released information confirming my suspicions about the current economic crisis. There has been no comparable increase in church attendance in relationship to have much the stock market has dropped over the last several months. Apparently, folks aren’t turning to the church for inspiration during these rocky times.
I’ve been in conversations with church members through the years and many of them still do not understand what has happened in our nation to cause such a societal shift. The pews in our churches were filled several decades ago but there has been a decline for over 50 years. Some who have been looking to blame something or someone attribute this reality to fewer babies being born to church members. That’s not a topic for discussion here, but only to indicate an increasing frustration among church goers who have dedicated their lives to their congregations for decades and are seeing fewer and fewer new faces replacing the ones who have gone on to be with the Lord.
People are not turning to the church during this economic crisis, but that should not prevent the church from turning to people. Our job is to “come and see” what the Lord is doing among us, and then “go and tell” that Good News to those around us. We’ll be open to the Holy Spirit to find creative ways to be missional in our approach and positive in our outlook. This is time to be reminded of what is really important, and a crisis has a way of getting our attention about what truly lasts.