September 11, 2001. Do you remember exactly what you were doing on that date between 8:46 AM and 10:03 AM? If you’re like me, you can remember the exact moment when you heard the news that two planes flew into the Twin Towers and then subsequently into the Pentagon and Shanksville. The nation was stunned. The rest of the day no work was done. That was a Tuesday. Actually, most of the rest of the week, no work was done. Churches opened their doors as people flocked to them. Special prayer services were held all around the country. I can remember “being allowed” to leave work and go to a special prayer service as most of my colleagues and I walked to the church next to our building.
Or how about November 22, 1963. I can truly say I don’t remember that day. Yes, I was born, but my days then were spent trying to make sure I stayed upright. That being said, I can remember Mom telling the story that she was ironing (that would be the appliance that is hot and used to take wrinkles out of clothing for those that haven’t seen one). Yes, that would be the day that John F Kennedy our 35th President was assassinated. I’m told church attendance didn’t increase at that time because church was still an important part of people’s lives.
What does this all mean? What has changed from 1963 to 2001 to 2020?
1) Blue laws are gone – yep, I’m old enough to remember them. Those would be the laws that prohibited stores to be open on Sundays
2) 25% of households are headed by a single parent, thus requiring people to work multiple jobs including Sunday
3) An aging population that requires more care, thus more facilities and options to care for the population which requires work on Sundays
4) Technology has taken off and that has become our number 1 priority. If you don’t think so, look around a restaurant or doctor’s office and see what conversation is occurring and how many are playing on their phones.
5) The all important team sports. Twenty years ago we had the opportunity to put a stop to sports on Sundays, but no parent wanted to be the bad guy so most stayed quiet and now it’s just expected that a soccer game can happen at 8 AM on Sunday.
6) Women in the work force. Now with both parents working a full time job, Sunday is a day for me to relax, I don’t want to get out of bed just to go to church.
Here at St Mark’s we have seen a serious decline in attendance and activity in just the last 2 years. I have had youth who want to do activities but are told their school or other type of activity is MANDATORY, therefore, they need to forego the church activity.
How do we address the issue? The one thing I know is if we don’t take action NOW, there won’t be a St Mark’s for me to grow old (er) in. That’s really hard for some of us who have been raised in the church to swallow. We can sit back and look at the items I listed above as excuses or we can pick up our boot straps and get to work and be evangelists like we’re called to be. Every chance we get, we need to be inviting people to church. We need to be reaching out to our neighbors.
I’m told what makes St Mark’s exciting? The people. We the people have control of our destiny. We need to look for options and bring some brightness back to the lights that are getting dim.
Be safe and think what you are going to plant in your garden in March.