Tuesday 3 January 2012

Falling attendances

In my last posting I referred to people falling away from Church.  This being so, we must ask why they do; there must have been an interest at one time to make them attend.  But I wonder how much we care.   When I contact a business regarding a product I invariably get a request to give feedback on the service I got from them.  Do we ask for reasons why people fail to attend?  If not, why not, we are on the Lord’s business.

I have to admit I have been to services which I would not wish to attend again.  Too often they are put together without much thought, tuneless hymns, vacuous preaching, come and go as you please without anyone appearing to care.

This in turn causes to be asked, what kind of message should be expected?  In the words of Scripture be bold, be strong and pray the Lord your God will be with you.  We are here to worship and glorify one person the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembering that all Scripture is given by God, and we are to tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear, telling it as the Bible has it without fear or favour, in the simplest of terms regardless of the consequences,and being prepared to face the passages considered sensitive head on, not trying to meet the needs of  political correctness.

I have been told to be careful what I say as it might upset some people, but I have never found this to be so.  If said sincerely and people realise one believes in what is said, it is accepted if not agreed with.  The only people likely to be upset are those with a guilty conscience who are then convicted. 

When I hear such fearful warnings my thoughts go to the famous Crusades of Billy Graham, where regularly to thousands of people he told them what a lot of sinners they were and of the awful consequences they faced if they did not repent and turn from their sins; he spoke of heaven and hell, and they flocked back to hear him wherever he went.  Surely a moral there.

I am amazed that people are falling away in America, for the pictures I see of Churches right across the States, is of Churches with at least acceptable congregations, and of course there are the large evangelical Churches. 

Here in Britain, I think our parish system has contributed in some way.  Every village has a Church which would at one time have been attended by the residents, and indeed have its own Vicar.  Now the villages have lost many of the old families and people have moved in from elsewhere, often from towns and cities without the same sense of community or faith. This has caused congregations to fall, added to which a shortage of clergy has meant Churches are grouped together with one Minister to care for them. 

It has become necessary for lay preachers to visit and assist. It has been debated whether that is a good thing to have different preachers, so giving a varied approach to Scripture (if in fact they keep to Scripture).   I personally think it is not, for a confused message is the result. People also relate to one man (or woman) and you know what to expect, and if you find their message not to your liking you can go elsewhere.  I am inclined to share the view of Charles Wesley on this point.(blog of 9/11/11)

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