AT Hargrave

Post Pandemic Church (Part 1)

Where have all the Christians gone? Recent statistics show one out of every three Christians in the USA are not attending any church after the pandemic, and half of practising Christian Millennials did not livestream church services during quarantine. Why?

There are probably many reasons. Here are some of them.

Inertia - it might be inactivity or laziness. Even as more and more people are attending sporting events, movie theaters, malls, etc. 1/3 of Christians are not returning. Sometimes we create habits that are just hard to overcome

Weak attachment
- the people who are not returning maybe had a weak attachment to Christ or to the church prior to the pandemic starting and the pandemic simply revealed this.

- we cannot rule out the fact that sometimes God adds by subtraction. This is a hard thing to say but it is a biblical reality that must be faced.  
We must not use these suggestions, however, as an excuse to dismiss the mistakes the church has made or to ignore what could have been done better.

There are other suggested reasons we need to address.

No Value Added - many people feel no need of the church. They can get good advice about life from home through podcasts, books, etc. Some churches offer a little Jesus and are not addressing the issues that people are seeking spiritual answers to, such as: loneliness, anxiety, poverty, injustice, understanding how to move forward, hope.
If going to church is no more than a short time of worship and then sitting to listen to a sermon, why can’t they do that from home more comfortably?

Poor Theology - I really mean poor ecclesiology. Many believe that Christianity is really about one’s individual relationship with Jesus and we go to church to express that life. The scriptures show instead that we need the community of the church to know Jesus more intimately. We are not individuals who join a club called ‘church’ but born again into the people of God - we have a personal (not private or individual) relationship with Jesus.
When half of practicing Christian millennials did not watch livestream Sunday sermons during quarantine, this may tell us that offering more options for convenience does not lead to more deeply committed and connected Christians.
The fact that many of those millennials returned after quarantine may tell us that there is something they are needing, something that is important about gathering together. 

It seems when people participate online at their convenience the more isolation they might feel. Perhaps there is a need to help people make the connection between people’s lack of in-person attendance and the increase in feelings of isolation and loneliness? Maybe this would help them see the importance of gathering as a Christ-centred community.

So how should we respond to the dramatic decline in numbers? We will explore this soon in part 2 ….
AT is Teaching Pastor of Destiny Christian Centre, based in Oklahoma City, and an experienced leadership coach as well as pastor.  He is part of the team facilitating the All Nations family in the USA.