Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is A Regularly Attending Congregation A Thing Of The Past? Victor Ko in The Banner

Culture is shifting seismically and that shift is shaping the life of the local church.

Gone are the days when the majority of church members attended worship 50 out of 52 Sundays, committing themselves to the ministry and membership of their local church.

We’re witnessing a cultural phenomenon in which many church-goers with demanding careers and busy lifestyles during the week are able to attend and commit less.

So ... what are some of the reasons behind this trend?

Kid's Activities
One cultural phenomenon is the growing number of children who play sports or engage in other group activities. Many of these sporting events or extracurricular activities take place on weekends—and more and more parents are choosing their children’s sports and hobbies over church activities.

Studies show that parents get involved in their children’s sporting and hobby activities earlier—by age 5—and extend their involvement longer—until they graduate from high school.

Weekend Work
More of us are working on weekends. An increasing number of North Americans are taking their work home on weekends, trying to meet deadlines or catch up on projects. Some are simply trying to fulfill the heavy requirements of their job description. And depending on where people live and what kind of work they do, it’s not unusual for them to travel out of town for work. Some commute weekly or daily; others are required to work night and weekend shifts.

Blended and Single-Parent Families
These days, more and more blended families and single-parent families are represented in church membership. So what’s this got to do with church attendance or commitment to a local congregation? Church leaders and members alike need to realize that when parents share custody of their children, they may see them only 26 Sundays a year.

Transportation is also a factor in this equation. This is true especially in my own context. Most of the single parents in my congregation do not own a vehicle and struggle financially. Adding to this reality, the challenge of taking babies or young children on public transit during long winters is a formidable obstacle.

Self-Directed Spirituality
People in general, both inside and outside of church, are turning less to churches and clergy to help them grow spiritually. In an age when information and knowledge are ubiquitous, we can search online for just about everything, from shopping and news to health-related items. A characteristic of the postmodern mind is a decline in our trust of and reliance on institutionalized religion. Many people attempt to meet their spiritual needs all on their own, apart from the body of Christ.

One thing is certain: our culture is shifting seismically. And that shift is shaping the life of the local church.

The full article is available here