Depending on where you live you may not notice that most churches have plateaued or are in decline. The number of people declaring they are Christians in Canada has gone from 41% (1971) to 27% (2011). So has the number of people who hold membership in a church and who attend worship at least once per month (from 43% in 1986 to 27% in 2012). The mom and pop small church is giving way to the Wal-mart super-churches, but the numbers have still plateaued and are in decline.
Some researchers suggest that the number of unchurched is as high as 70-80%. Pew Research found that 24% of Canadians are religiously unaffiliated and that many of these are under 40.
Our own congregation is a example of all of this data, but it is not alone.
Churches do not know how to respond to this change and we have not trained leaders for it. It’s not that we don’t have pastors and many lay leaders who are biblically and theologically trained. The problem is that we don’t have leaders who are specifically trained in leadership, people and strategic thinking skills. I’m not sure how our people would even respond to such a trained person.
Churches are responding to the changes around them in many different ways. Some bury their heads in the sand and hope it all goes away. Some continue on their merry way believing that like all trends people will eventually come around again. Others are trying adapt their churches to the culture and have become lost in the culture.
I’m not sure there is an answer to the problem or a magic bullet to solve it.
The Church does need leaders who are grounded in God’s word, faithful to the confession the Church has always professed, but it also requires pastors and lay leaders who will call people around the Christ who has said…
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24
“Do you want to go away as well?” – John 6:67
As the body of Christ I hope we will declare boldly in spite of what is occurring:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life… – John 6:68