In a recent broadcast on YES TV, Maggie John of “Context: Beyond the Headlines”, notes that “statistics from the Anglican Church of Canada show that by 2040, their pews will be empty.” This is not just an Anglican problem. It is a challenge facing all denominations and many faith communities across Canada, even our more evangelical siblings.
John reports that “only 11% of Canadians attend weekly religious services.” Of course the Covid-19 lockdowns we have experienced over the previous 18 months have not helped the situation, but they have encouraged new forms of worship, including the virtual or online worship experience. At Siloam, where I serve as Lead Minister, we have been back to in-person worship since mid-July, but we will always continue to offer a hybrid form of worship. In other words, we will continue in-person worship (for which folks will need to show ID and proof of double vaccination starting December 5th) and we will offer an online or virtual form of worship on Rogers TV.
But we must do more than offer a hybrid form of worship. We must also be prepared to meet people where they are and listen to the questions they are asking. The late Bishop John Spong once said that too often the Church asks questions that nobody is interested in, while ignoring important questions around identity, climate justice, race relations, mental health and human sexuality.
In this show John interviews several leading Canadians about the declining numbers in religious attendance and asks if people today are less interested in God? “Or are people yearning for relationships beyond the Sunday Service?”
She also interviews me about the growing trend in Baby Boomers seeking spirituality in retirement. I argue that Boomers don’t simply want “to attend” church or “sit in pews”. Boomers want “TO DO” Church. Check out my interview with John in the October 20th edition of Context: “Beyond the Headlines – Gotta Have Faith!”