This post comes out of a recent conversation with an under-20-year-old Christian. Most of this person’s age group had moved city for study. It is a struggle for one or two persons of this age group to go to a service where everyone else is older or younger. You only need a few people that you can identify with in a congregation – but if they are not there, it is hard to continue coming.
And dropping worshipping community size works by the Rule of 70 just as our finances do. If your congregation has 7% fewer people in a year, and continues at that rate of decline, it may not seem much (in a congregation averaging 60 people, that’s 4 fewer on average) – in 10 years, your congregational size has halved. [Now it’s 30]. 10 more years and it halves again [to 15]. Growth, of course, works in the other direction – increase year by year by 7% and you double in 10 years.
But decline (and growth) is seldom linear. When 5 of your 7 under 20-year-olds move town (as that age group does), you might lose all 7.
And then there is the loss of the habit of church-going through Covid and lockdowns…
And then there is the live-streaming of services now. This young person told me that the norm in their age-group is to watch online. It is much easier to sit in front of a laptop in in your comfortable pyjamas and check out Instagram through the boring bits. Or look at a recording, fast-forwarding through bits. If we don’t like what’s available locally, the world is our digital worship, preaching, teaching, and worship-songs oyster!
If Communion can be consecrated via the Internet (or off a recording) then there is even a loss of motivation for those of a sacramental Christian approach.
Roman Catholicism, with its tradition of Sunday Mass attendance being obligatory, suspended that obligation but is restoring that requirement in many places as Covid lessens.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.Hebrews 10:24-25
When leading a service which is being live-streamed, I have tended to welcome those who are physically present and those who are watching via livestream because they cannot be present.
What is being your experience?