Visiting Churches

Reflecting on Church #6: A Pleasing Present and a Bleak Future

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #6.

There are many positive aspects of this church, but with an aging congregation, their future is bleak. Caught in time, circa 1960, their service would have been nice then, even inviting. Now it’s out-of-date.

When fifty-something visitors are among the youngest present, that’s a real problem.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

The church’s budget is barely enough to cover operational expenses, let alone pay a pastor. Even worse, the prior week’s offering fell far short of the budget. Their aging leader can’t receive much compensation from them, if any.

Perhaps that’s why he also pastors another church. At eighty years old, I wonder how much longer he’ll be able to lead them. When that time comes what will they do? Will they find someone else to take his place? I worry over what is next for them.

[See my reflections about Church #5 and Church #7 or start with Church #1.]

My wife and I visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This is our story. Get your copy of 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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2 replies on “Reflecting on Church #6: A Pleasing Present and a Bleak Future”

“Caught in time, circa 1960, their service would have been nice then, even inviting. Now it’s out-of-date. ”
Really? What was out-of-date? The visual effects and sound system weren’t high-tech enough? The worship team didn’t have a singer who could imitate Lauren Daigle? The pastor wasn’t offering tips on stock market investing? For someone who usually extols the early church and fellowship of believers, this was a surprising comment. I would think a good service would be timeless and never need “updating” to suit the times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of your fans, but this comment surprised me.

Rosa, you ask a great question. Thanks for your comment!

Underlying my “out-of-date” statement is that their service was stuck in the past and no longer relevant to most people today. Though they wanted their church to grow, they weren’t doing what they needed to do to attract visitors and have them return. Instead they were doing what they’ve always done (and were comfortable with), while hoping for a different outcome.

If I may use television as an example: In the early 60s all our TV shows were in black and white. People watched them and enjoyed them. Now they’re in color. Black and white is dated and most people (unlike myself) won’t watch anything not in color.

Metaphorically speaking, this church is black and white television in a technicolor world, wondering why people don’t want to watch.

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