Where Did All the People Go?

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.


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