As I was sitting on the chancel at church this morning, I looked out into the congregation. The crowds were a bit thinner than usual, because many of the women were at a retreat. The average worship attendance is anywhere between 70-90 these days, which is pretty good. But then again, those 70-90 folks seem mightly small in a sanctuary that seats 500.
At it’s height, First Christian had around 1500 members and even into the 1990s the average attendance was probably 150-200 per Sunday. The congregation is part of a trend that is happening among mainline churches; few members and more gray hairs among those that remain.
So, here’s the question that was rattling in my head this morning: where did all the people go? If a church had so many members and so many kids, where did they all go? Did they stop going to church? Did they go to megachurches? I know some of them have passed, but what about the others? What can mainline churches do to stem the “bleeding?” Or can nothing be done?
I don’t have the answers. Maybe we just have to learn to live faithfully in the low tide.