Prone to Wander
Written by Ps Zheng Haoren
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.
Robert Robinson (1735-1790) penned these words as a young man of 22, a few years after his conversion. This admission is found in his classic hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. He was an undisciplined youth who came to repentance while listening to a George Whitefield sermon. He became a pastor. It is said that later in life he wandered from the Lord and felt he could not return.
Yes, we are prone to wander. But God in His wisdom has provided for us the church community to guard against this tendency. Hebrews 10:25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This ongoing COVID-19 pandemic however has placed a serious strain on the living out of physical church meetings.
While the months of April to June 2020 saw a very healthy attendance rate over live-streaming services and online small group meetings, this trend is on the decline in the last two months. Besides the wearing off of novelty in virtual meetings, there are other underlying explanations to this decline.
One research and resource company in another country has found that 32% practising Christians have stopped attending Church during this COVID-19 pandemic; 35% are still and only attending their pre-COVID church; 14% have switched churches from their pre-COVID church; and 18% are viewing multiple churches throughout the month.
There is also a strong generational pattern. When asked if they had attended church within the past four weeks, exactly half of practising Christian Millennials (50%) say they have not. The study further noted that though younger generations might be more accustomed to digital routines and innovations, their tenuous relationship with institutions seems to persist during this era of digital Church.
Practising Christians who have stopped attending church in recent weeks are more likely than all other practising Christians to say they feel bored “all of the time” (17% vs 6%) or that they have felt “insecure” for at least some of each day (11% vs 7%). Many practising Christians are seeking prayer and emotional support from their churches.
We need to pay attention to these trends although the source is not local. There are common grounds. The findings highlight for us at Zion Bishan the importance of continuing to reach out to and disciple the next generation as well as to stand with one another in our AGs, especially those who are prone to wander during this pandemic.