I’ve got a strong word for some of my pastor friends. I might be late to saying this and would love not to have to be someone to say it. Yet, I feel I must to be faithful to my blog audience.
They aren’t coming back.
Some of the people you keep hoping you will see back on Sunday mornings simply aren’t going to return. At least for now.
Truth is they are comfortable. They can watch online. You’ve done a great job of keeping them semi-engaged. The way they choose to participate with you is now convenient for their new lifestyle.
Please understand, I’m not blessing it. I would never pretend this is all church is supposed to be. I know Hebrews 10:24-25 well. In fact, I’ve read it in each major version of the Bible. It says the same thing. We are not to forsake gathering together as a people of God. The gathered church is an essential and commanded part of the Church.
I am simply facing reality. Because like many other problems we face in life – until we admit it, call it what it is and put it in the context of current reality we can’t really do anything to address it.
Once we realize some of these people aren’t going to return we can quit bellyaching and get to work. We can begin to ask ourselves better questions.
Questions such as: What are we gonna do about it now? How are we going to keep making disciples of people we might not see as regularly in person?
The problem with refusing to accept this reality is it wastes energy and morale. Instead of investing in the people who have returned and people you haven’t even reached yet, we worry about those who have for all practical purposes chosen “another church”. Or at least another form of church.
But I think we should be thinking along the lines of:
- Equip people where they are to grow as disciples.
- Provide opportunities for those people who may never attend.
- Embrace new people who are coming.
- Try to think like an outsider thinks.
- Consider people important in your ministry that might attend randomly if at all.
Basically, things we should or could have been doing all along.
As an example, I’m thinking of my former church, where I’m now serving as an interim teaching pastor. They have an over 50-year old television ministry. For years, far more people have watched the services than attended them every week. But when I served as pastor I prayed, thought and planned far more for the people in the room than I did the television audience. I’m not saying that was bad, but the pandemic has made me realize we probably had some missed opportunities.
So, a better question for that church today – How can we better engage a television audience that may never attend in person – and help them grow as disciples of Christ?
Again, I know it is a strong word, pastor friends. I still hope some of the people I’m missing return, but even more I’m hoping I think bigger and better about Kingdom issues today than I did two years ago.