February 2, 2017

Alternative Questions and the Church

Discussions of crowd size have blanketed the news this past month. Friday’s crowd was small, and Saturday’s crowd was bigger, so we judge the value of these two ideas based solely on audience participation.

The Episcopal Church knows a thing or two about decreasing crowd sizes. Too often, our “success” and significance as parishes (and as a national church) are measured by large numbers and our average Sunday attendance. The average ASA for parishes across the country dropped from 60 in 2014 to 58 in 2015. We can’t dispute those facts. But what if we could provide more meaningful information, by asking alternative questions?

● What if it’s not about being numerically (or financially) successful but about being faithful with what we’ve been given?
● What if our significance has little to do with our ASA and more to do on lives changed?

What if we started asking alternative questions?

That could change how we think about what it means to be the church and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

What if the questions we asked each other weren’t about our ASA, but about our neighborhoods? Instead of asking about our long lists of programs, we could ask about the immediate needs we are seeking to meet in our contexts. Or maybe even about the ways in which God is already working in our neighborhoods (before and without us), and how we might join in that ongoing work of the Spirit?

Attendance, and budgets, and programs are important, sure. But are those the right questions?

What new questions can we start asking?