Vicki+ left this comment below and it really is begging for its own post…:
So much of your commentary on this blog is about Christian formation. But one thing that has not been raised is the frequency of attendance at Sunday worship, and the role of that in formation. One of the measurements for congregational vitality is Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), reported on parochial reports and other analyses. (Yes, I know that CS Lewis once commented that Jesus said ‘Feed my sheep’, not ‘Count my sheep’; nevertheless….) But more and more the pattern of Sunday worship attendance among people who consider themselves faithful, committed Christians engaged fully in the life of their parish has changed. That standard used to be 3 out of 4 Sundays a month. Now it is more like once a month or even once every six weeks. This is not just my own observation, nor just about the Episcopal Church. I’m hearing it from many different quarters (of course there are always local exceptions).
So, the question becomes: how does Christian formation work in such a climate where the chance for repeated exposure becomes far less? At what point do we lose the corporate sense of the Body coming together to be fed and formed and sent out in mission? What as Christians is our duty and responsibility, not only to God and to ourselves, but also to each other as part of each others’ formation? The phrase from the BOS bidding prayer for Advent Lessons and Carols keeps ringing in my ears: “Let it be our duty and delight…”
Anyway, do you have any thoughts about this?
Oh, do I…
Especially after a meeting I attended this weekend. We were planning for next year and we had some suggestions that education classes not be held every Sunday because, can we really expect people to get to church that much? And then to stay for a whole two hours (for mass and Christian Ed)?
[ol’ codger tone] When I was growing up going to church every Sunday is what was both expected and done. We did it, the families on our street did it, the families at our church did it. The only times we weren’t in church was on campouts for Scouts. Otherwise if you weren’t there, people assumed you were sick/indisposed. M said it was the same way for them. And we’re not talking the ’50’s here, these were the ’80’s. [/ol’ codger tone]
Also back then, there were very few sporting events and such held on Sunday morning (I can think of a few soccer leagues in our area that had games then—but not many). One of the reasons is because they simply could not get the kids because parents wouldn’t let them skip church to play on Sundays.
That’s definitely no longer the case, especially in M’s parish’s geographical region. All sorts of community and school athletic events are on Sundays/Sunday mornings and often parents choose those over church.
Somehow church is being viewed in greater numbers and across age-spans as an optional activity.
I’ll just open this topic up at this point… Do these anecdotal trends match with your observations? What do we do with this?