One of the things I love the most about church is getting to fellowship with folks that I love. That fellowship of friends is part of what draws people to church. However, Co-vid has really impacted attendance. In fact, it seems to be the same for all pastors: Entire families have simply not returned to services once the doors re-opened. A few pastors have said that attendance is back to normal, but most say that about half of their regular members are missing.
Remember a few years ago when a lot of criticism was directed at student pastors who were blamed for young people leaving the church when they got older? I do. There was a lot of talk of “They just played with the kids, so they were not mature Christians.” Was that criticism justified? In some instances, I imagine so. But not in every case.
Young or old, pandemic or immaturity, what can we say about the reasons people stop going to church? Some blame the ease of watching worship over the internet. I’m sure that’s true for many. But can I offer another possibility? Could it be that many of these former regular attendees – both youth and adult – were never disciples of Jesus? I’m not judging anyone’s salvation, but I am saying that part of being a disciple of Jesus is the desire to worship with fellow believers.
This could be an opportunity for pastors and church leaders to ask themselves hard questions:
Are we truly making disciples?
Do we have a discipleship process in our church?
Is what we are doing now effective?
Is there a better way of doing things?
Is a one-hour worship service each week enough to really make disciples?
Evaluation is always a tough experience. But I do think this is a good time for us to ask those tough questions. After all, isn’t making disciples what the Great Commission demands?
It’s not going to hurt us to at least consider how we can do better at making disciples. Because making disciples is what we do.