Being a church youth and family worker can lead me to some interesting conversations. I had one such conversation today with a boy who lives in my street. He discovered on Friday as i was bringing things in from my car that I work in a church with children and teenagers, his response was something like "so you just teach the Sunday School then?" This can be the sort of response I get when I tell people my job: they don't really understand that there is much more to church life than the Sunday morning and there is much to be done during the week.
Anyways this wasn't what was interesting about this conversation. He went on to tell me that he and his family used to go to a church every Sunday and that he went to lots of kids clubs in that church when he was younger, however they moved house and never looked for a new church. This got me thinking. There are many reasons why numbers at churches are dropping but I was surprised at this reason.
The church I work in is in an area where there is tremendous growth in housing and therefore population: there are many new people moving into our area. Is it possible that many of them have been regular church attenders where they lived previously and now that they've moved into a new area they haven't looked for a new church?
Don't get me wrong, I don't think that church attendance is what counts, but I think it is important for people to be linked in to a community and to feel a part of that community as well as to be spiritually fed by that community.
It all leads me to wonder, are we being effective in our ministry and in our outreach? Are we good at welcoming new people into our church community? Are we good at finding those people who are desperately in need of support, community and spiritual nourishment? Where do we go from here?