Where has the 1/3 Gone?
Amy Kochan, Church Council President - June 14, 2022
As I dropped my boys off at their last day of school on June 8th, I was filled with emotion. Some of it was because it was the last day of elementary school for my oldest Jackson, but as I sat briefly watching him enter elementary school for the last time, it hit me – this year was special – he had gone to school the entire year. Yes, restrictions were still in place, but he was there and so were his friends, every day since August. For the first time since 2nd grade, life felt normal. Let that sink in – since 2nd grade and now he was embarking on middle school.
A simple carpool drop-off got me thinking – what else are we missing? As I went through the list in my mind, images of people I hadn’t seen popped up; I thought about trips we hadn’t been able to take, and I thought about our church. I’ve missed all the people. Remember the childhood song – ‘here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.’ Over the last six months, it has been exciting to see the church come alive again. Attendance is up in worship; events are back on the calendar and folks are sharing in God’s message. But not everything is back to normal – not everyone has returned.
We have talked a lot as a Church Council on what life after Covid will look like. In many ways, it seems familiar, but also very different. Statistics show that one in three practicing Christians dropped out of church completely during Covid. Many houses of worship were shuttered forever and church membership in the U.S. dropped below 50% for the first time, according to Gallup data dating back to 1940. These statistics are startling. Studies show that a decline in religious service attendance not only has the potential to negatively affect public health, but also family stability and growth. I think of my own two boys and how their lives could be impacted … what can I do to change the trajectory?
It starts with all of us – one simple act – an invitation to an event, a phone call or text, or even an email. We are God’s messengers, and it is up to us to change the statistics. It is up to us to invite that 1/3 back and reach beyond our walls. It is up to us to change the future, and our children are depending on us. Who will you invite to church?