A couple of days ago, following the conclusion of the evening meeting, I was talking with Pastor Tim Howells and I asked him why he thought that the number of people attending church was declining at a fairly constant rate.
Pastor Howells gave me a one word answer: –
And that set me thinking.
When you study your Bible (as I do constantly) you will know that there are numerous references to the fact that the Sabbath day should be a day of rest.
God made the earth in six days and on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that He had done in creation (Genesis 2: 2-3).
Then in Exodus 20: 9-11 God says to Moses: –
Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
When I was a young child I attended a Methodist Sunday School every Sunday at 11am. Returning home at 12.15pm, I had dinner with my parents and then I was sent to my bedroom to have (at least) a two hour ‘rest’ on my bed.
On Sundays I was not allowed to play with my toys or to play outside my house with my friends.
Football matches, and other sporting activities, simply did not take place on any Sunday. Very few shops were open (except at the sea-side, perhaps). My mother would encourage me to improve my young mind by reading classical novels (like Dickens, Thackeray, Scott etc).
I remember that my father bought us a television in 1953 so that we could watch the coronation of our Queen but in those days there was only the BBC available and programmes were only shown at specific times during the day. So, I was in no danger of being seduced by unsuitable television programmes!
And, generally speaking, all churches seem to thrive. Many churches were filled every Sunday with regular worshippers. This, of course, was in the 1950s.
But – sadly – as soon as the law was changed to allow the Sunday opening of supermarkets and football matches (for example) to take place, slowly the traditional form of Sunday began to change and a decrease in the number of people attending church each Sunday with it.
And in the last decade or so, with the advancement of computer technology (especially in respect of the world wide web and emails), many young people stay up late on a Saturday night watching films, or playing computer games, and are much too tired to get up early enough on a Sunday morning to go to Sunday School or Young Church.
Even one of our Ministers, who has a ten year old grandson, is unable to persuade him to attend Sunday School because he is a member of his school football team who play their fixtures on a Sunday morning.
Understanding the problem is one thing – but fixing it is quite another.
How can today’s church environment possibly compete against the ungodly world? There are no Billie Graham’s around these days and there are relatively few outstanding evangelists.
Recently I have been researching the phenomena surrounding the Welsh Revival of 1904. One of the leaders of the Revival, Evan Roberts, had a vision that he would bring 100,000 souls to God within a few months.
Through long hours of prayer, Roberts began to speak at more and more meetings, at which the Holy Spirit descended upon all those present, which in turn led to a tremendous increase in the number of people attending church.
Meetings would last until 2, 3 or even 4am in the morning. Every church was overflowing with people and on many occasions, large crowds gathered outside the church because there was no room for them inside!
The main Welsh Revival took place from 1904-1906 but its effects lasted for a considerable number of years thereafter.
Just as it was in 1904, prayer today, in our twenty-first century – is very very important. Evan Roberts and his team spent many many hours in prayer – and the Holy Spirit bestowed great wisdom and oratory powers on the Revival preachers.
My wife, Marlene, and I always make time every day – no matter how busy we may be – for prayer. Sometimes we pray individually, sometimes we pray together. We live in a ‘House of Prayer’………..
A few months ago – just before Christmas – we began to attend the weekly Prayer Group at an Apostolic Church in Ebbw Vale.
It was totally different and a completely new experience for me. People were speaking in tongues; I had only ever read in the Bible that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in Jerusalem whilst they were having a Pentecostal meal together.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability (Acts 2: 4).
Also different was the fact that the number of regular attendees at the Thursday morning Prayer Group was a greater number than could be found in some of the local Methodist Churches on a Sunday morning or evening.
Now returning to my original theme – ‘Pleasure’ – the challenge for us all is to adapt our Church presentation to meet the needs of people in our local community.
Pleasure – and leisure – certainly have their place in our weekly ‘menu’ of activities but if we do not make time for worshipping our Father God then we have truly ‘lost’ our way.
What do you think?
How can we reverse the present serious decline in our Church attendance? I’d love to hear your ideas. Or even your own experiences, where you live, about how you are managing to attract more people to your church?
Please send your ideas, thoughts and experiences to me at: –
With many prayerful blessings