A couple of days ago the moderator of the United Church of Canada posted about the nearly demoralizing statistics of our denomination, and in Christianity in general, in a post entitled, “More than Numbers”
In the post he highlighted the work of David Ewart, a retired minister, who has been documenting the decline of our denomination over the last 50 years, and lays out the trend for all to see. Which, in a nutshell, is, “Will the United Church see its 100th anniversary in 2025?”
This is a valid question to ask. Statistics do say a lot about the status of our denomination, and our churches within it.
But, as Gary Paterson points out, numbers are only one part of the equation.
I want to thank Gary for being our moderator. He has taken on an Herculean task to inspire our church to continue moving forward. While I don’t always agree with him, I do appreciate his openness, and his willingness to point us back to Jesus. Something we don’t always see coming out of our denominational bureaucracy.
Getting back to the statistics, there is one element which cannot be counted out. There is one which cannot be excluded from the ongoing discussion about the future of our denomination, but more importantly, the future of our churches.
That one is Jesus Christ.
Will we continue to close churches? Yes.
Will we continue to struggle as a denomination for the next decade? Yes.
Will we continue to lose membership, money and authority? Yes.
Things will not change overnight.
But God is with us. When we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; when we share the Good News he brought to the earth from our Father in heaven; when we embrace God who loves us beyond our understanding and His call to love the world as He loves us…
Then lives can be impacted. Lives can change. Hearts can change… no, hearts will change.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV)
It’s not about numbers of bums in the pews, it’s about the number of hearts that belong to God. Those are the numbers we need to care about.
That’s where true growth happens in the church.