Tuesday, February 28, 2006
What happens when a church doesn't grow?
You see the church building of the Barbaree's Hill church in Barbados--certainly one of the most adequate buildings in the Eastern Caribbean. When I first visited there in 1993 or 4 there were more than 60 in attendance on a Wed. night. As I continued to visit, usually just passing through on my way to another island not only the number remained constant, but so did the people. There were few, if any, new faces but attendance remained pretty much the same. Dana and I were there last year for a Tues.-Friday Gospel meeting and the number was around 30 each night, with a number of visitors. I was told that on Sunday they number around 40. What happened to this once thriving church? They didn't grow and the handwriting is on the wall for all to see--they could cease to exist before too many more years.
Why didn't they grow? I don't know everything there is to know about their history but a few things seem obvious to me. It is tragic to see Sunday morning there; people in their 40's-50's bring Mommie to church, drop her off, then go their merry way until it's time to come pick Mommie up again. Many of these children were "raised" in this church, but practically none of them attend now. They didn't have childrens Bible classes too much and when they did it was only a week or so. As a result those children never learned the Bible and have little or no faith. Most of them know enough not to go to a denomination, but don't have enough faith to actively serve God. We say "Children are the future of the church" and that is so true. When we neglect teaching our children we destroy the church--it may take some years, but that is the inevitable result.
Do you see children's Bible class as something with eternal consequences? Or is it just something you do to keep the kids busy so their parents can have "real" Bible study? The devil is trying to teach kids all day long every day and often we don't really even try for 2 hours a week. Souls will be lost because of it--not only theirs, but perhaps yours as well.
Is your church growing? If not it's dying. But it's not too late yet, if you acknowledge the problem and do something about it.