I served as a pastor for thirty years in the United Methodist Church. I approached every one of those years with newfound excitement and enthusiasm. Full of energy, creative ideas, and an increasing understanding of what needed to happen to grow the church, I remained faithful in prayer and anticipated someday catching a wave that would propel us to new heights. Sadly, that new wave never arrived. And like in so many churches, my congregation grew impatient and agitated.
Many, if not most, churches, view their situation as an aberration, that the other churches are increasing in number, and they were the exception. What we failed to understand is that we were the rule and not the exception. Recently, when asked about their religion, 65% of respondents professed to be Christians, down 12% in the last 10 years (https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/).
This isn’t to say that there are not mega-churches that started with humble beginnings but continued to expand defying general trends. However, what I have observed is that, in most instances, their circumstances centered around a Sr. Pastor who had the “It” factor. It’s difficult to describe the “It” factor, but you often know it when you see it. And, unfortunately, most churches do not have a pastor with the “It” factor, and they need to consider a more reasonable approach to outreach if they hope to buck the trend of decline and eventual dissolution.
In 2008 David T Olson published a book, “The American Church in Crisis.” Almost all numbers generated regarding church participation are based on polls. Olson took an entirely different approach, assessing church participation based on population and reported church attendance records. What he learned is that many more people report attending church than what the records indicated. Based on Olson’s numbers, church participation ran at about 20%, in contrast to surveys that suggested numbers in the forty-plus percent range. Considering that his study dates back to 2008, and based on present trends, it would be realistic to conclude that participation now runs in the mid-teens.
Rock Solid Teen Center is a new approach to growing the church. Young people who would never darken the doors of the church will come to Rock Solid, and there we can meet their needs, build relationships, and share our faith. It isn’t easy but is a return to Jesus’ one-on-one approach to disciple-making. Most people may conclude that a youth center is too expensive and time-consuming, but I am here to tell you that it is not expensive as you may believe, and am offering our services to help make your dreams a reality. And if your church has a youth pastor, you already have someone who can run the center.
If insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, it’s time for churches to consider doing something different. If you can get young people to attend, you’re back in the ballgame. And if you take those opportunities to share your faith and plant a seed of the Gospel, God will make it grow. It’s not too late, consider partnering with us to reach the next generation for Christ. Just fire off an email and let’s get started.