Too Few in the Pew? (Part one of three)
By Zac Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith. —Doctrine and Covenants163:2b
Every time I log onto a social media outlet, my news feed will undoubtedly show an article or two. I get articles such as “10 Reasons Millennials Are Leaving Your Church” or “Why I Left Church” or “Brunch Is My New Worship.” You may know what I’m talking about.
If this is not enough reason to cause fear or anxiety about the state of faith, many churches are struggling financially—including my own, Community of Christ. For most of us, declining numbers cause fear and concern about our future. When we see a decline of people in the pews and a decline of contributors, somehow we think the “church” is dying.
I want to tell you why this is not true. Let me share how I am seeing faith explode in the everyday. Numbers do not dictate God’s wonderful and intense movement. I want to share with you HOPE. I want to share with you the vision and shifting identity of the missional church.
A few weeks ago I sat with a friend at lunch. We had met a few months earlier when he first walked into our congregation. We shared our passions and faith. He told me he wanted to commit to Christ by baptism! I was surprised and excited. I was in doubt, worrying whether my faith was relevant. But in that moment I understood that Sunday morning traditions or experiences do not control my faith.
Tangible development of disciples that create and embody a relevant Community of Christ enlivens my faith. The church is not dying—it is growing! It is moving through vulnerability and courage to share and extend a hand of extravagant hospitality.
Prayer for Peace
Everyday God, sometimes we take you for granted. We forget you are working in ways we do not see. Help us renew our vision for Christ’s mission. Help us renew our passion for peace.
Spiritual Practice: Invite People to Christ
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 162:3b and 163:2b. Pray to be aware of people who might be receptive, and therefore blessed, by your sharing of the message of the Living Christ. Imagine being in relationship with them and inviting them to Christ. In preparation, discover your personal testimony of Christ. “Be persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.” Repeat this phrase throughout the day: “Christ’s mission, our mission, my mission.”
Today, God, when I see an empty pew, I will be glad we have room to invite more.