It’s no secret that the majority of people in this country are no longer attending church. Even many who would consider themselves born again believers seem to be disenchanted by the notion of being committed to any local congregation in a significant way. Despite some of the more positive statistics concerning American church growth, since the 1960s there’s been a marked decrease in involvement in the local church as a whole. Not long ago, in the city where we were living, five churches from a particular denomination closed their doors in order to combine their ministries into a single congregation because they could no longer support themselves individually. Although local church leaders put a great deal of effort into putting a positive spin on the consolidation, the unpopular truth was painfully obvious, these churches were in decline.
Granted the cause of shrinking church attendance in the U. S. is as complex and varied as the people involved, or not involved as the case may be. But if we’re one of those individuals who currently falls in the Christian-non-church-goer category, perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves why? For many, the answer may be less insidious than we first thought.
Are you familiar with the social phenomenon that has come to be known as cocooning? Since the advent of TV and now the internet, the overwhelming trend in our nation is for people to become less and less socially interactive and thus more and more relationally isolated. Not so long ago, the idea of having little or no interaction with our closest neighbors was unthinkable. I once head an older southern gentleman remark that air conditioning was responsible for the downfall of his community. He went on to explain that in the South, everyone would go out on their front porch in the evening to escape the heat. To avoid being labeled as rude they would be forced to participate in at least some level of conversation with their neighbors. Though usually the dialogue was superficial, there was certainly an expectation of frequent verbal interaction. Now, because of the transient nature of most neighborhoods, a noticeable indifference toward those who live near us has become not only acceptable, but in most cases, the unspoken norm. Geography is no longer the primary motivation for interaction or relationship. Facebook alone has the potential of influencing the way many of us view life in a community. However, it is my contention that, just as watching a movie is seldom as impacting or meaningful as reading a book; cyber-relationships will never be an adequate substitute for physical, face to face interaction.
If you’re a Christian, and you’re not currently involved in any life giving relationships with other believers, consider this. You were created to function as a part of something much bigger than yourself. Our spiritual journey was not meant to be traveled alone. Put simply, we were made to need one another. Maybe it’s time to try out a few of your local churches. Not so that we can be considered a church-goer, but in hopes of developing a meaningful relationship or two with someone who is spiritually headed in the right direction. Be assured, there is no perfect church. If there’s people there, count on it being prone to weakness and imperfection. The only answer to church problems is the discipline of forgiveness and the willingness to maintain a graceful demeanor toward all others. The local church is still the best hope for a lost and dying world. Don’t give up on finding a good one, they’re out there! Here’s a great link for finding churchesor achurch directory. www.churchpages.info/