I must confess that sometimes I despair the future of the church. As a newcomer to my neighbourhood in Toronto, I decided that I would try out the two local protestant churches before spreading my net for a home church a little further out. After all, Christ calls us to be his hands in our communities where we live. What better way to get involved in one’s neighbourhood than to attend church there?
As such, last Sunday I went to a quaint, brick Anglican church. I noticed almost immediately that it was dying. The congregation was small, even by summer standards. The majority of the congregation was beyond retirement age, and those who were younger did not make up a substantial enough portion of the church to keep it alive as the older generation dies off. Actually, I’m surprised that with so few members the church is able to keep its doors open at all.
This Sunday, I attended the Presbyterian church. It was once again, a lovely brick building. Inside the architecture was delightful, and my insides swelled with happiness upon hearing the first hymn come to life on their full sized pipe organ. But once again, the congregation was small, dwindling, and dying. Maybe 10% of the church was filled. It made my heart hurt a little. Beyond that, the preaching and singing were do dismal, I had to force myself to remain for the entire service.
And for me, those were the only church options in my neighbourhood. How can we be Christ’s hands if his body is not present? How are those in my neighbourhood to know the love of Christ when the churches have such difficulities meeting the most basic of their expenses? How are members of the community who want to inquire into the faith meant to find a place to do so? They certainly aren’t going to wander out of their normal life realm in search of a church. No, they’ll try to find other things to fill the God shaped hole in their heart.
That being said, it looks like I too am going to be looking further afield for a home church. Part of it makes me sad, but the other part recognizes my need for community in a new place. I will still do my best to love those I meet in my neighbourhood, but church will have to take place elsewhere. I don’t really want to go to a mega church, but finding a small healthy church seems to be a challenge these days. Pray for guidance for me as I search for the church that God wants me to make home.