Following up on Phil’s sermon from Sunday I wonder if you’ve ever realised how many people it takes to resource a Sunday morning service at St Paul’s, the answer may surprise you:
Leader, 2 x Welcome, Sound, Projector, 2 x Prayer Ministry, Intercessions, 2 x Readers, Server, 2 x Chalice Assistants, 2 x Refreshments, 2 x Cakes, 2 x Sunday School, Crèche, Musician(s), 2 x Cleaners, Brass cleaning, Wash Communion Linen, Flowers
Yes – for a Sunday Communion service it takes 26 people to serve so that it can happen!
However this creates a challenge, and a challenge that has been getting more and more difficult over the past 12 months or so. Janet and I have noticed that we are finding it more difficult week by week to fill the rotas with willing volunteers. I thought I’d explore here what I think may be some of the reasons and ask for your thoughts, comments – and HELP!
My first reflection is that the regularity of church attendance has changed significantly over the past 10 – 20 years. Today priorities have changed for many people. Church attendance isn’t every Sunday, for many every other week or less is quite common. Family, leisure pursuits, sport and even shopping can come before church attendance.
I’m an old fashioned sort of Christian, I can’t imagine being anywhere else on a Sunday morning except with the Christian community that I worship with. As our children grew up this meant that there were opportunities that we denied them because Sunday worship was our first priority. When we had invitations out on a Sunday (before I was ordained) we would decline them unless they fitted around attending worship. As much as we might be tempted on a sunny day to skip church, it was a temptation we resisted. Whether it was a birthday or an anniversary, we would always put worship first.
My second reflection is, I think, connected to the first. As attendance has become less regular people are less keen to commit to being at a specific service. This gives them the freedom to choose a week, a day or even on the morning whether to attend or not. This becomes nightmare for Janet who tries to organise rotas months in advance. Even if people say they will be there it is no guarantee that they actually will, and even the reminder emails that she sends sometimes seem to make no difference!
My third reflection relates to changing generational views and prosperity. Many of those who are now retired, or who are about to retire, are some of the most affluent to retire that this country has ever seen. In past generations there was an attitude that retirement was a time to serve and give back to your community. For some this still holds true, but for others it is seen as a phase in their lives where there is the time and freedom to enjoy life.
The above are only my reflections and are generalisations which may or may not be correct.
BUT everyone expects Sunday worship to continue whether they are there every week, once a fortnight, once a month or even less often. The challenge is how do we maintain warm, welcoming, lively and life giving worship when about a third of the average attendance on a Sunday morning need to be involved in serving for it to happen?
HELP – Yes we need your help, please let Janet know if you can help with one of the areas of service above.
HELP – do you have any answers because I don’t!