But the answer depends on how the question is asked. When the question is do you attend church regularly (two times or more a month), the answer in the U.S. was 18 percent in 2002. The trend is definitely downward. Church membership dropped 10% in the 1980s and another 12 percent in the 1990s. From 1900 to 2000, 2.7 million church members fell into inactivity. Membership is declining while our population is growing.
The causes for this decline are generally assumed to be that some people are bored by religion while others feel it is not informative or relative to them. Some claim to be revolted by gossip or strife within the church, unfriendliness or over-emphasis on money. One reason never given is the lack of parking space in church parking lots.
Can this trend be reversed? Yes, but more ideas are more likely to come from sinners rather than saints. The slide will not be turned around by more power points, longer sermons, hymns with more verses, bagpipes, accordions, tubas, smoke, mirrors, credit cards or passing the plate twice.
Don’t ask the choir for ideas — they’re already attending. Ask those who aren’t. Every Sunday morning in the fall, football fans are tailgating at Vikings football home games. They arrive hours before the game and start grilling and drinking immediately. It is a well-established ritual and folks tend to set up shop in the same places near the same people and make friends with the fans around them. And it works for baseball games, soccer and concerts, as well.
Aside from judging “sinfulness” (let’s avoid being judgmental here), the same tailgating practices are taking place before high…
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