If the local church is going to survive, it needs to up its game on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings used to be “church.” Not so much any more. Most couples work Monday through Fridays and take care of chores or kids sports activities on Saturday. On Sunday they are tired and just want to “chill.”
Even traditional church goers are falling away from Sunday mornings at church. There is just too much competition. The center piece for most Sunday morning church services is the sermon. I can get better sermons that directly address issues or questions I have on TV or online. There I’ve said it.
The local pastor is competing with more talented better educated, more experienced teachers who are supported by staffs with vast technical and research resources. The local guy has to try to reach his regulars and any visitors with a one-fits-all message that he hammers together between pastoring duties during the week. The internet and tv guys can present very pointed, well researched and media backed messages. Lots of folks don’t even know what the Sunday message at their church is going to be and after a while they all tend to sound the same and run together. This is particularly true in churches where the pastor feels each message has to be “seeker friendly” and end with an altar call.
The local worship team faces even greater challenges. Jesus followers can listen to professionally uplifting and encouraging music 24/7. The local worship team is given a short time slot to try to make the presence of God felt with limited resources and major distractions.
What the local church has going for it is fellowship. You can NOT get that on TV or online. Most churches, however, minimize this advantage. There is a short time for hand shaking and back slapping. Attendance at “Sunday school” where fellowship used to happen is way down. Many churches are not even offering anything on Sundays any more. Larger churches have multiple services and the crowd from one is quickly moved out to make room for the next group coming in.
The key aspects of Jesus following can now take place outside the church. Your giving can be automated to the church and the opportunities to give to direct needs abound outside the church. There are multiple charities that do a better job of directly impacting people than most churches do. It’s much more satisfying giving to persecuted christians or starving children, than to support salaries, buildings and air conditioning repairs.
The chances to “serve” in the local church seem to be shrinking as “staffs” grow and someone is hired to perform almost every function. The regular member is often limited to ushering or working in children’s church. Parachurch organizations offer much fuller serving experiences.
I don’t have any answers but there are, obviously, many challenges for local churches. If something radical doesn’t happen soon, Sunday mornings will just keep “Coming Down.”