I’m not quite sure what we’re supposed to do at this juncture.
The demographics are clear across the denomination, and those of us in Cayuga-Syracuse are no exception. The Gallup poll from this past summer gave us data to back up what we already knew: as a country, less than 50% of us are members of religious organizations (that includes synagogues, mosques, and churches of all stripes and sorts).
A couple of decades ago the trend had become noticeable in declining numbers of younger folk in the pews. I seem to recall someone commenting that worship had begun to look like a pack of Q-Tips™ – all white hair! That isn’t as funny as it once was, and not because my own head is gray. This isn’t going to be reversed with a new website, a drum set, and a fresh young pastor with children in tow. This isn’t going to be reversed. Period.
Whatever comes next won’t look like what I’ve known all my life. Of course, it’s also not the first time that God’s people were upended from what was known and tossed into the unknown (see also: time in the wilderness with Moses; Babylonian exile) but those were stories told using flannelgraph and cute songs. Y’know… history! This certainly wasn’t supposed to happen to me (and it really wasn’t supposed to happen on my watch).
But here we are.
(And, God is here as well).
I’m not quite sure what we’re supposed to do.
But I am completely sure of who we are supposed to be.
We are supposed to be people of faith.
Friends, difficult decisions lie ahead for many of our congregations.
I’m not referring to those hard decisions regarding spending from endowment, staffing, or even conversations about closure. The most difficult decision isn’t whether to do those things, or the best way they might be done.
The hardest decision is to discern our next steps as people of faith.