I know I probably shouldn't be saying this," confessed a loyal church member who joined his congregation back in 1968, "but I can't get very upset over the fact that our congregation is growing smaller.
"I remember all too clearly how it was eight or ten years ago when we were receiving a flock of new members year after year. We had to go to two services every Sunday morning, and everything was rush, rush, rush. Now we've slowed the pace and gone back to just one service on Sunday, and that gives us a chance to get better acquainted with everyone."
This candid member illustrates an important fact: Most longtime members find it more comfortable to attend a church plateaued in size, or one experiencing gradual numerical decline, than to participate in a fast-growing congregation. Why?
At least a half dozen reasons can explain the attitude of this longtime member.
1. Stability. The first, and for many members the most powerful, reason for this attitude is that the worshiping community ...1