1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.
It seems that at least once a day somebody tells me that the established Church is dying. Or I scroll through Facebook and read (yet another) blog post about why membership statistics are shrinking. Ergo, the author usually says, the Church needs to totally scrap our system as it is now and do something radically different. Rip out the pews! Throw away the hymnals! Meet in coffee shops! People just won’t come any more to hear the good news!
I feel that this is a knee-jerk reaction. The crowds come flocking to Jesus, so much so that he has to sit in a boat. I do believe, in fact, that people will still leave the comfort of their own lives in order to hear the good news. At Holy Comforter, we experience this every Sunday. Despite our church being hidden behind a grove of trees, despite the not-so-obvious entrance to our church, despite the growing trend of people who would rather sleep in on Sunday mornings – people still come. They come to hear the good news, to share in the Holy Eucharist, and to be fed by music and liturgy.
Now, of course, we must not chain ourselves to systems that don’t work. We must always be trying new things, innovating, and exploring new ways to be the Church. But people – strangers, even – will always want to hear the good news. The question is this: do we actually preach the good news? Perhaps the reason people have stopped showing up is not whether we have Prayer Books or screens, but it’s because we’ve lost our desire to share this radically new way of life.
The Rev. Jimmy Abbott