The Shrinking Church
Written by Ps Dev Menon
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10)
A few weeks ago, Ps Haoren shared the worrying statistic – that the longer church is virtual, the higher the percentage of Christians (particularly within the young adult range) who end up leaving the church for good. This has been confirmed even amongst our Singapore churches, though the percentage seems to be around 10-15% (but climbing).
One of the great dangers of not worshipping ‘in-person’, is that our personal preferences start to take root. When pastors around the country ask their people why they are not coming back, a few state health concerns (though the next question would then be: ‘so do you go to the malls/restaurants?’). But there are now more comments like: ‘I don’t want to wear clothes’ (!), ‘now I can sleep in’, ‘there’s no singing’, ‘I hear the pastor better on my TV’. Yes, some of these are factually true – but a lot of it also indicates that what I desire has become more important than the needs/preferences of my brother and sister. We have become consumers to an event, rather than family to a gathering.
When we come together, we are forced to address each other, deal with each other, put each other’s needs ahead of our own. The more we stay isolated, or even keep to our fixed long-term social group – the more we develop ‘small church syndrome’. We want things our way, we don’t like change, we don’t like to deal with other people – especially their problems. Have you ever noticed how long-term small churches are permanently stuck in a certain way of doing things (even though they say they want change)? It’s like you can’t help it. The progression is slow, deadly – and often irreversible. In this time of COVID, do you feel your world shrinking? Do you feel it is harder to interact with others – to tolerate them, listen to them, work with them? Do you only feel happy when you are in your small, tightly controlled world – in your own house, in your own room, with your own stuff? That is the sinful self taking over. Be careful, one day you may find that your world has shrunk so much that there’s only room for one…