Worship attendance has been declining for about 40 years or so in mainline congregations (i.e. Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran & Disciples) and is now declining in Evangelical congregations (Independent Christian, some Mega churches) over the last decade as well. There have been lots of studies on what is causing this and suggestions include the following, according to David Lose:
(1) Attending church isn’t a cultural given anymore and there are a whole lot more options on how you might profitably spend your Sunday morning. (2) Many church-goers haven’t found the Christian story a particularly helpful lens through which to view and make sense of their lives.
So, according to research we are experiencing a shift from an “age of duty” where we do what we do because we believe it is what we are supposed to do, to an “age of discretion” where we do what we do because we believe it is worth doing, or it will bring us some kind of good, value or profit. There is no “sacred hour” for worship anymore. Mourn that fact if you wish, but don’t dwell in your sorrow for days gone by. The gospel call is clear for those who place their trust in the Lord: go, make disciples! Jesus never commanded us to build expensive buildings and fill them with entertained worshippers at 10 on Sunday. He simply said, go!
Hospitality is a key for growing churches. First, we receive the radical hospitality of God who welcomes each and all into God’s holy presence despite our imperfections. Second, the welcoming hospitality we share with one another anytime we gather in Christ’s name. And third, the inviting hospitality we practice with folks who are guests each week and with our family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. May we hear the call of Jesus and share God’s gift of hospitality, daily.
Peace & Joy!
Rev. Robert Bushey, Jr.