There was an excellent article in the Washington Post recently about the challenges facing nearly every congregation in every denomination all across America.  The short of it is we are living in challenging, unfriendly times as far being a“church” is concerned.  Society is or already has moved away from church.  Young people in increasing numbers are not interested in the church.  Sports at the youth, college and pro levels is the new religion in America.  It was once unheard of to have to compete with youth sports teams on Sunday mornings but today youth sports teams play games, have practices and compete with the church on every Sunday of the year, year round.  The effect is that many if not most churches, especially those in the so called “main line” denominations, are facing struggles to survive, let alone prosper and grow.  As the old song from the 1960’s said “The Times They Are A Changin”.  In reality, they have already changed.  Congregations are merging, closing, struggling to survive.  It’s not easy being church in these times. 

We are much more fortunate than many other congregations in these times.  We aren’t struggling to survive and in fact continue to look for new ways to grow our ministry but the challenges are immense none the less.  We have less attendance than we did ten years ago.  We have fewer members than we did ten years ago.  We have been blessed with new members every year for many years and 2017 has been a good year but we are losing members as well, due to age, moving and death.  We aren’t as young as we once were.  But, the good news is we are doing OK.  We have a core of great, dedicated members who give their all…not just to survive but to do genuine, real, honest ministry in the name of Jesus Christ. 

So what are we to make of all of this?  First, we need to remember that we are called to be faithful no matter what times we live in.  Secondly, we need to recognize that we are in challenging times and that these times call for the best from us.  Third, we need to recognize that we have been blessed and we are blessed and we should thank God that we are doing as well as we are.  Fourth, we should continue to focus on our core mission.  Our mission is to be a bold and faithful congregation where people experience, cultivate and share the love of God.  Those three verbs describe who we are and what we should be doing.  Fifth, I believe that we are being most faithful to God’s call when we provide and respond to local, hands on, community centered outreach as well as do our best to support national and world missions through our faithful giving to World Outreach.  Sixth, we need to focus on Sunday morning worship.  Worship is the hub of the wheel from which the spokes for every other ministry come.  Faithful, joyful, life changing, life challenging worship is our first priority.  Lastly, we are all called to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.  We should all be involved in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  These are the seven signs of being a faithful church today.

What do you think we should be doing to face these challenging times?  What do you think our core mission is?  Are you committed?  Are you dedicated?  Do you feel “called” to be a lively and faithful part of a lively and faithful congregation?  Come and talk to me, email me, let me know how you can and will help us be the church God has called us to be in these challenging times.                                            

Dr. Chance