Why do I think “participation” is a problem? Especially in the church, participation is critical. Members of a church must participate in order for the church to continue doing ministry. Over the last 50 years active participation of members (defined as activities beyond simply attending worship services) has dropped from 60-70% to less than 20%. The reasons for this are many and varied from family to family, I won’t go into that here, but you know what they are. Distractions and busyness of life simply get in the way of having the time to give to church things. Finances at the church have followed this downward path also because if members are not participating in the ministry they “forget” to give an offering as well.
Now to change gears quickly, I am not publishing this to complain or accuse or shame any members of any church. People must set priorities in order to navigate life. If church has dropped on the priorities list then the church needs to address why that has happened. In order for the church to “figure out” what’s going on though, members must give input so that needs can be met and the future of the church can be looked at with accuracy. If there is no information given from members, church will continue on the same path until it meets it’s end.
The competition for your time and money has intensified greatly in the last few years. There are more charitable organizations vying for what seems to be less and less time and dollars. Taking care of ones self and family seem to be all that is manageable in a most cases. This 50 year “trend” has caught up to the institutional church and decisions must be made. Change is no longer an option but a necessity. I am in favor of change and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the church. However, some modicum of participation in this process must happen from members if they are interested in what happens to their church. This participation, here at All Saints over the next 5 months, will determine the “way” we will go into the future. We have options and opportunities, but we need participation in the process to avoid the predicament of “having no choice”. If we do nothing the time will come when there are no options or opportunities left, and we will join the list of “what might have been”.
God gives us free will to make decisions and to “do” what we think is best. As Christians we are called to using that freedom in defense of those who have no resources or ability. We are called to serve one another and to love those we serve. HOW that is done is NOT etched in stone, there are new ways and new ideas, lets find some together.