Church is not the same as it once was, and not just because of the pandemic. In this vlog, Spencer talks about the different ways that the church has needed to change due to the pandemic and how we can see the change in our culture and times as a means for dreaming about a better and more fulfilling church experience for our community.
Read the transcript here:
Let's just say that potentially 50% of church goers are not going to return. That's a possibility. And we're just early in the stages to try to figure out a lot of this. But if that's true, then we've got to ask, what are the possibilities? What are some of the dreams that we could think about? Well, let's analyze why some people are not coming back. Earlier, we talked about the idea of people getting teachings in real time on their own schedule through podcasts and teaching and others. So people have found during almost two years of a pandemic, how to gather together in small groups, around tables, you know, how to learn and listen, you know, there and from teaching. But there's also some real reasons why people are not returning. Right. So it's like in one congregation, I do a laboratory at a methodist church and there's some people who are older there. Right. And I was asking because, again, we always have to ask, let's not assume anything. Let's go out and really have some inquiry here. So I said, what? Why haven't you returned? And I thought it was going to be all about health. A few talked about health and being able to feel safe and everything else. And I don't know what the future of pandemics and health scares and everything else are in the future, but we should be prepared for that every single Sunday, I would say, or every single time we gather. But that wasn't the main reason. One of the things that was amazing is that they said, When I'm at home, I'm able to look at the screen real close and see the pastor's expression, and I could turn the volume up as loud as I want and I can actually hear.
But when I sit ten rows back in the pews, I can't see and I can't hear. So for all the right reasons, people have not returned. And we've got to ask, why is that? So the question is, if people want to listen on their own schedule, they want to hear at the volume they want and they want to see it real clearly. They feel as if they can participate in a more active way than sitting in the pew on Sunday. So we've kind of asked the question, who moved the pew? You know, like, so if people aren't there but they're still participating, that's kind of an interesting thing. So I think we have to think about the possibilities and dream about how we create and embrace those people who are online in our communities and and not just on Sundays. Another thing that we've found is that even before the pandemic, businesses were opening, sports opportunities for families were happening and vacations and trips with people were obviously a weekend was a main place where people tried to take their Sabbath, find a place to be able to enjoy one another. So the question becomes, is Sunday even the best time in the agrarian culture? Remember, we talked about it. People worked for six days, then everything was closed. Everything. Even when I was a little kid, everything was closed. You couldn't go anywhere other than at a faith community. Well, that's not true anymore. The competition is only heightened. Now, here's the and one of the things that I think we got to be thinking about is even banks remember we called it banker's hours.
It was because banks were only open like 9 to 4 Monday through Friday and you had to go on Friday, cash your check, get the money. Atms changed the whole world for people's access. It didn't shut down the banks, but it had another opportunity for people to dream about the possibilities. I have to say, I think we should be thinking about ways in which we're expanding the opportunities, because here's one of the sad facts. Think about the people who on a Sunday morning at 10 a.m. do not have the opportunity to be able to come to church. They are the people who are working at Starbucks. They are the people who are doing concessions at the stadiums. They are the people who are doing janitorial work, perhaps, and on it in a big business community that's closed on a Sunday morning business offices. So literally, not the least of these. The people without seniority are the ones who can no longer participate with us. And so Sunday morning has always been the most segmented hour of the week. Now it's also the most segmented hour of the week because of socioeconomic reasons. So if we're going to really reach out to all people and give all opportunities, we have to move beyond Sunday morning as the only place. And I'm not talking about just do a Saturday night service. I'm talking about really reimagining and dreaming what the possibilities are. And I don't see that as a negative. I see that as a wonderful opportunity to move forward. And the pandemic simply revealed what was already true, not just pre-pandemic, but probably for the last 20, maybe even 30 years.