A message from Pastor Kirk
We’re kicking off a new church year! We’re coming back. Back to church at 8:45 and 10:45. Back to two services in the sanctuary! Back to Sunday school, back to adult classes! Back to fellowship events! Back to seeing each other again.
I hope YOU will be back to join us! Why? To hear the gospel proclaimed. To hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and be reminded of His life-changing invitation. To say YES to the call of the 100th Psalm which summons us all to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and come into His courts with praise!” To share in the warmth of fellowship, to rekindle the flame of faith, and to bear witness to the world as we gather that we are God’s faithful people!
A pastor friend of mine recently shared an article with me, entitled, “Millions Skipped Church During the Pandemic. Will They Come Back?” He mentioned that attendance at the Presbyterian church he serves is down by 60% since the onset of the pandemic.
The article, written by David Sharp, says, “As the pandemic recedes in the United States and in-person services resume, worries of a deepening slide in attendance are universal. A lot of momentum has been lost and a lot of people have stepped out of the ‘habit’ of weekly worship.”
“‘There will be no returning to ‘normal’ after the pandemic,’ says Rabbi Dusty Klass. ‘There are people who went home and may never come back to the sanctuary.'”
Hmmm. Why won’t they come back? Those who study church trends point to 4 reasons:
1. Many have discovered the convenience of online “worship-at-home.” They prefer its ease, its comfort, its safety. They don’t have to “get up, get dressed, get the kids ready, get out of the house, get into the car, get to the church, get inside, get everyone situated.” They are now contented members of the “virtual church” and do not intend to come back to the sanctuary.
To these I would say, “Come back in person! Your presence is a ministry and an encouragement to others!”
2. Some have gotten out of the “habit” of in-person worship. Just like exercise, worship is a habit, a spiritual habit developed over time. And just like exercise, the habit of regular worship can be, and, for many, has been, lost.
To these I would say, “Rediscover the habit! It’s good for your soul, it’s a witness to others, and the kindness you offer to someone sitting near you in church may help that person face another day.”
3. Some continue to feel “unsafe” about indoor gatherings, especially where singing may be going on and/or people are either unmasked, potentially unvaccinated, or not socially distanced.
To these I would say, “FPC is following all the safety protocols recommended by the health authorities.”
4. And some have left their churches because they were unhappy with the ways their churches responded to COVID. They have left feeling their churches were either too lax or too strict when it came to precautions.
To these I would say, “COVID has been tough not just on churches but on our society. On the American public writ large. It has been controversial, politically charged, divisive. Every church, synagogue, mosque, and temple has had to navigate uncharted seas. None of them has made a single COVID decision that has made everyone happy. Don’t forsake the church God has called you to because it has disappointed you or done something with which you disagree. If we all operated that way every marriage and friendship would fail.“
What will we see at FPC as we roll into a new Fall? No one knows for sure. Those who claim to know don’t. No one has ever visited fall 2021. This fall will be an experiment for FPC as it will be for most all congregations. The fellow church members you have elected to Session to serve as Elders at FPC have voted to provide the same Sunday choices you had before the pandemic: a traditional service at 8:45, followed by a contemporary service at 10:45. They have voted to continue the online “virtual” service which we tape on Wednesdays to put online on Sundays.
I know one thing for sure: the Elders will be prayerfully monitoring to see how things go as we roll into the fall. And as your Pastor, I want to invite you to come back to church and join us for in-person worship. Why? Because the Bible says:
See you in Church!