Will Mancini is concerned about the church. He is upset by what he calls “a disturbing trend” in church these days.

Mancini is ringing his hands about what he calls “the Local Predicament in our Kingdom Concept work”. He explains,

In the last 2 years, I have see one common thread become a common rope. Its presence is now ubiquitous; every church I talk with mentions this problem when we discuss the Local Predicament in our Kingdom Concept work (challenges and opportunities expressed in the local culture). I have never seen a problem discussed this commonly amid a diversity of church sizes and denominational affiliations.

What is this one trend? It’s that your most committed people will attend worship services less frequently than ever in 2015.

Mancini see three reasons for this trend:

  • Increasing involvement with kids’ activities including more “multiple activity” commitments (sports, music, etc.) for longer duration with greater competitiveness. The growth of club sports and the intensity of competition creates a market for kids to get started earlier and be involved longer. This is literally eating our families alive when it comes to time.
  • Greater mobility in general and the rise of virtual work places. Twenty-five percent of white-collar Americans travel as a part of making a living. People with discretionary time are more likely to be traveling or working in environments outside of their typical home environment.
  • Access to church online. Now it’s is easier to stay connected to the church, if you have to travel or if you have problems at home getting ready for church in the morning. Within two minutes, I can be streaming one of many great services from across the country from my laptop to my widescreen via Apple TV for the entire family.

I have no statistics to prove it, but I am pretty sure Mr. Mancini is correct. The pattern of every-Sunday church attendance has been pretty much relegated to the over-fifty age group in churchland these days. It is true, younger families are less likely to occupy a pew four Sundays a month.

Is this disturbing? Should I join Mr. Mancini in fretting about the evident decline in regular church attendance?

I think my preference would be to simply recognize the reality of what Mancini has observed. I choose to rejoice in the presence of every precious person who makes it to worship whenever they feel able to show up.

I do not believe my time, energy, or creativity are well used by thrashing around trying to devise elaborate means of attracting people to more regular attendance. I certainly am not going to pull out the guilt and shame card to pressure people into showing up more regularly in the pew on Sunday.

We all have enough pressures in our lives without the preacher adding one more by demanding a pattern of life that is simply unmanageable for many people.

We no longer live in the 1950’s. There are no social supports in the dominant culture that encourage Sunday morning church attendance and many forces working against making it through those church doors. The competition for the hours of Sunday morning is ferocious. Families who are juggling a multitude of extra-curricular activities beyond school, the pressures of keeping up with their children’s education, and the realities of managing family life in a demanding economy should be congratulated for ever managing to fit church in on a Sunday morning.

My hope and prayer is that, when anyone shows up for worship in our community, they find, not guilt for sporadic attendance, but rest and refreshment for their spirit. I hope when you come to worship with us, your heart is encouraged to open to God’s presence. I hope you find yourself growing in your ability to experience the richness of love and grace at work in your life, wherever you may find yourself on Sunday morning.