“Elvis has left the building.”
This is a phrase that announcers often used after concerts to disperse audiences who lingered in hopes of an encore. It has since become a catchphrase and a punchline in American pop culture. In 2020 many have wondered – “has the church has left the building?” During the absence of being able to participate in corporate worship services, gathering together has become challenging. My hats off to pastoral staff’ that have thought outside the box, had parking lot services, and took on a virtual worship format. It has been a season that has forced everyone to stay flexible, understanding, and compassionate.
Your Church is still around. The Church as a whole is still around. It’s just left the building.
I know it stinks! I’m not too fond of it either – change is hard. Let’s face it the decline in church attendance isn’t new; it has been on the decline for years. Barna reports that in 2003 church attendance was at 51%; in 2018, it dropped to 38%, hitting an all-time low of 37% in 2020. I know it is a sad fact, but the truth is Christians were already getting tired of Church as usual. Let us pray that this pandemic has forced us out of the building and the community to share our faith.
The good news is that infrequent church attendance is not necessarily a sign of decreasing devotion to our Lord. It is, however, a sign of shifting culture. After being quarantined for a year, most will choose a 45-minute virtual experience to a 2 to 3-hour in-person experience. As much as we want everyone to come back to the building, the reality is … many have left it. As the culture around us shifts, the Church needs to be pliable and innovative, creative in launching new ways to engage those already in Christ and reach and save the lost. To make this happen, ministry leaders will not only need to learn to think outside the box – but live outside it as well.
As I considered how Boundless Sisterhood would continue with our mission of encouraging and equipping women for ministry, I came up with a few ideas.
- Blogging keeps followers engaged and informed.
- Hosting a podcast and interviewing women that feel called into ministry teaches and encourages.
- Blogging and hosting a podcast has me reviewing engagement rather than counting attendance at events. Just because someone isn’t in person doesn’t mean that they are not engaged.
- Worship or services On-Demand (YouTube) can be just as good as live-streaming on Facebook.
This last year has been challenging for us that like to gather together to encourage and receive encouragement. The Bible tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:24-25 NIV. We are told to meet together because we need one another as we journey through this life. The good news is that technology has given us many ways to engage and fellowship with one another.. By all means, let’s use every avenue we can to reach all we can for the gospel.