As a lay pastor it always deeply saddens me when I see churches close the doors for good. In this area of Central Ontario the year 2016 has seen several churches close down in the area. And the ones that remain open are really struggling to keep going. What is happening? Why has there been such a departure from church attendance?
Thinking back half a century ago when I was a child there really was not much to do on any given Sunday. Shops and businesses were closed, there was no organized sports no computers or video games or amusement parks nearby. There was no cable TV, and the options on both of our 2 channels on the black and white TV were church services. Church was literally the only thing happening on Sunday morning, so people went. It was actually quite refreshing and renewing having a quieter laid back day from the rest of the week.
Nowadays there are so many attractive things to do on a Sunday, and people including Christians are taking advantage of it. The Blue Laws in 1985 were declared unconstitutional in Ontario and businesses flung their doors wide open for business, which had a big impact on family and church life. Many people who previously attended church now had to work on Sundays, which makes church attendance for some very difficult or impossible.
More and more we have also become a society who want to be entertained, and people will pay top dollar to make that happen. From the website Credit Loan, it states that the average American (which would be comparable to Canada) spends an average of $2827 per year on entertainment.
Sadly this has carried over to the church. People come to church with expectations of “what’s in it for me”. But true church worship revolves around God and not our own expectations. Our church does have audiovisual support in our services, we are on social media, and have a blog in order to be more relevant in this fast paced technological society. It is not meant to be entertainment but to be a part of the worship experience. A great article on worship can be found at Crosswalk titled “Worship The Way God Intends”.
So why not take an hour or so today to support your local church. Remembering it is not about “me” and being entertained, but about worshipping God. “The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, bit in God” ~John Piper~