A Word from our Transitional Presbytery Leader
How many of your church’s participants these days are farmers? I ask because, for the most part, the time we worship on Sunday morning was established in an agriculture-based culture. Farmers and their families could do their morning chores and still make it to church by 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. That culture began to decline with the start of the American industrial age in the mid-19th century. The church, on the other hand, has never changed.
Consider how dramatically the workplace has shifted in the last 150 or so years. According to 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, more than a third of U.S. laborers work on weekends, many of them on Sunday, and a small but steadily growing number of American workers have more than one job. This doesn’t even count the people who travel or are involved in sports on the weekends. Yet few Presbyterian churches offer a non-Sunday worship alternative, effectively missing out on at least one in every three people in the workforce. Read HERE about an Episcopal Church in Philadelphia that offers mid-day services Monday-Thursday as part of a neighborhood outreach program and is closed on Sunday mornings.
This is just one example of how our churches must consider the way we’ve always done things and ask how we might adjust to fit the reality of the 21st century. People have many reasons why they’re not coming on Sunday mornings, and very few of them are related to a lack of faith. What if your congregation took a risk and experimented with an alternative to Sunday morning worship (in addition to, not instead of) for six months? And if that didn’t work out, what if you tried something else? Or, you can keep waiting for the farmers.
We also need to assess what we’re doing on the presbytery level. 2019 is very different from 1871, the year Lehigh Presbytery was formed. How can we best put our energy toward building what will be, instead of trying to revive what was? What can we do to make our mission and assemblies more relevant to the needs of our congregations and communities in the 21st century?
We’ll be engaging in conversations about these questions and others in the coming months and trying some new things. Please share your ideas!
Grace & Peace,